Monday, June 10, 2019
Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson
For more than 5,000 years, "old" has been defined as beginning between the ages of 60 and 70. That means most people alive today will spend more years in elderhood than in childhood, and many will be elders for 40 years or more. Yet at the very moment that humans are living longer than ever before, we've made old age into a disease, a condition to be dreaded, disparaged, neglected, and denied.
Reminiscent of Oliver Sacks, noted Harvard-trained geriatrician Louise Aronson uses stories from her quarter century of caring for patients, and draws from history, science, literature, popular culture, and her own life to weave a vision of old age that's neither nightmare nor utopian fantasy -- a vison full of joy, wonder, frustration, outrage, and hope about aging, medicine and humanity itself.
I find myself sharing stories from Elderhood with friends and family. Elderhood discusses how the lack of resources and research placed on the treatment of older patients leads to uneven and inadequate medical treatment. The is gap is attributable to doctors, hospitals, drug companies, etc but the dangers of errors - big and small - are almost incalculable.
I found Aronson's Elderhood is as engrossing and as informative as Mukerjee's Emperor of All Maladies. While Aronson focuses on anecdotes and examples more than Mukerjee's examples in medical history, Aronson writes clearly, succinctly and eloquently. Elderhood is makes strong arguments for reform in medicine and I hope that doctors in all areas of medicine read this book.
About the Author:
Louise Aronson, MD is a doctor, writer, and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Fransisco. The author of A History of Present Illness, she has received a MacDowell fellowship, the Sonora Review proize, and four Pushcart nominations. In medicine, she has been recognized with a Gold Professorship for Humanism, the California Homecare Physician of the Year award, and the American Geriatrics Society Geriatrician of the Year award. Her writing has appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, Narrative Magazine, New England Journal of Medicine, and Bellevue Literary Review. She lives in San Fransisco where she cares for older patients and directs UCSF Health Humanities.