Author, Harvard-trained geriatrician and professor at University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Louise Aronson will discuss “Reimagining Your Best Elderhood” on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 1 p.m., at Livermore’s St. Borromeo Church, 1315 Lomitas Ave. All are invited to attend the free talk and book signing.
In her book, “Elderhood — Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life,” Aronson breaks down preconceived ideas about aging and old age, diving deep into the counterproductive ways medical systems and societal attitudes shape life from age 60 onward.
With modern increases in human lifespans, the period of elderhood—what Aronson calls the third and final stage of life, after childhood and adulthood—may now span 40 years. But in America, society has turned old age into a disease, a condition to be dreaded, disparaged, neglected and denied.
Sharing stories from her personal and professional life, and drawing from history, science, literature and popular culture, Aronson offers a powerful roadmap for approaching old age. Using what experiences have taught her, she envisions a large-scale shift in society’s—and medicine’s—attitude toward aging, made up of crucial adjustments in how we see the changes in each other’s and our own bodies, how we care for older people, how we set doctors’ salaries and bill patients, and ultimately, how we conceive of the final third of life — not as an ending or decline, but as yet another stage of life with its hardships and challenges, opportunities and joys.
Associated with the longer life span and its different needs comes the need for those years to be as productive and comfortable as possible. This cannot be accomplished if growing older is regarded as a downward spiral rather than a time rich in satisfying experiences that may not have been possible when younger. Aronson notes that ensuring a good later life not only requires age-appropriate responses from medical providers, but also mandates proactivity to prevent or forestall complications of aging; for example, she cites programs, such as fall-prevention education, as being more effective than dealing with the surgeries and rehabilitation required after a fall.
Aronson speaks with the authority of a scientist and the fervent care of a human being. Her discussion uses the vocabulary of the lay person, so all can grasp and apply message.