By Louise Aronson
Who is Louise Aronson: Louise Aronson is a doctor, geriatrician and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Aronson is also a prize-winning author, who has published a short story collection. Her articles and stories have appeared in publications including The New York Times, Narrative Magazine, and Bellevue Literary Review.
Amava Take: This is a critique of our current medical system and how it handles the special needs of aging patients. Aronson describes individual patient stories, details the mistakes made by doctors (including herself) and explains how the system can serve people better. Elderhood is also part memoir. Aronson discusses her father’s death and her role as a caregiver to her mother, as well as her own experience with professional burnout and how she overcame it. The book is also a primer on how to be a better patient, full of useful advice about getting optimal treatment. Aronson’s eloquent book beautifully illustrates both the travails of getting older and it’s positive aspects.
Memorable Line: “We tolerate negative attitudes about old age to degrees that we–at least publicly and officially–no longer tolerate racism or sexism. We treat old age as a disease or problem, rather than as one of three major life stages.”
What we’d tell our friends: This book is worth reading for its advice for anyone who is growing older (i.e. all of us) and for caregivers looking for insight. Aronson uses patient stories from her practice to illustrate the issues that can arise when treating older people, and explains how to avoid them. Reading this book is like getting the “scoop” from your own trusted doctor.