Elderhood Book Summary By Louise Aronson

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Elderhood (2019) delves into the complexities of aging in America.

Written by Louise Aronson, it’s an exploration that combines personal anecdotes with sociological insights to paint a picture of what growing older looks like in a society that often takes youth, speed and efficiency as paramount values.

Aronson invites readers to question the stereotypes they have about old age, while also providing solutions on how to better nourish our elders in today’s world.

Through her book, she encourages us to think critically and empathetically about the lives of older people—to make sure we create paths for them to enjoy their golden years.

Elderhood Book

Book Name: Elderhood (Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life)

Author(s): Louise Aronson

Rating: 4.4/5

Reading Time: 21 Minutes

Categories: Health & Nutrition

Author Bio


Louise Aronson is an experienced and highly acclaimed writer, professor and geriatrician.

For the past 30 years she has worked in the medical field, garnering attention from her peers by being awarded the Clinician-Teacher of the Year Award from the American Geriatrics Society.

She currently teaches geriatrics at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and is also director for Northern California's Geriatrics Education Center.

Her debut book A History of The Present Illness was published in 2013, illustrating her expertise as a storyteller.

With her book Elderhood, Dr.

Aronson offers insight into how we can improve our health in older age and how we must come to terms with aging regardless of how society views it now.

Elderhood Helps Us Understand Ageism And Learn The Recipe For A Happy Life

Happy Life

If you’re looking for a deep dive into the issues surrounding aging in America and what geriatricians do to help, then Elderhood is the book for you.

It follows the journey of a group of geriatricians as they wander the streets of Baltimore asking people what a geriatrician is – most had no clue!

With Elderhood, you’ll join these geriatricians as they uncover why ageism is still so prevalent in today’s culture and how it shapes our views on taking care of our elderly population.

You’ll gain insight into why preventive care is often deprioritized in comparison to cures, and learn more about what happens to happiness after age 60.

In addition, Elderhood provides insight into how to create a happy life, especially during your elder years.

If want to join this geriatrician’s investigation and gain knowledge about aging in America – then get yourself a copy of Elderhood today!

Reimagining Old Age: How Replacing The Word “Old” With “Elder” Can Change How We See And Treat Seniors

We have been taught to associate “old age” with words like “wrinkled,” “bald,” and “bent over.” We tend to think of aging as a single concept that involves a decrease in pleasure and an increase in difficulty.

This is largely because, for most of human history, not many people reached old age.

Now, baby boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 people per day and need attention that has historically been directed elsewhere.

At the same time, the US government’s Center for Disease Control fails to acknowledge the diversity of elderhood.

The CDC lumps all adults over 60 into one uniform category instead of recognizing their individual differences.

As a result, older adults often don’t get the care they need to live well into their senior years.

To combat this inherent bias against elderhood, we must start by changing the language we use when discussing it.

Professor Guy Micco asks his medical students each year to answer what comes to mind when hearing the word “old,” which usually results in negative adjectives.

But when asked about the word “elder,” responses include words like “wise,” “power,” “experience” and “knowledge.”

It’S Time To End Ageism And Appreciate The Joys Of Growing Old

The key to a fulfilling life after 60 doesn’t lie simply in achieving happiness and joy, but also in being seen as the record holders for life-experience that they are.

Though numerous studies have shown that people in their sixties can often have levels of well-being just as high as those of twenty-year-olds, society still finds ways to make this seem like an anomaly.

Words like “geezer”, “old fart” and “crone” are all evidence of how tough it can be for elders to be looked at positively.

Younger people will often resort to patronizing language when speaking to elderly individuals, with phrases like “you’re not old!” or “hello there young lady!” implying that being elderly is something to be avoided.

This tendency is even more deeply ingrained into our culture than we may realize – born out of an emphasis on success and youth, with nothing left for those who possess wisdom, maturity and prudence.

Often even those we would assume should lead by example succumb to this way of thinking – the author herself succumbed by dyeing her hair until recently so as not to appear “over the hill”.

The Critical Role Of Relationships In Maintaining Our Health And Happiness

Health And Happiness

When it comes to the elderly, relationships and purpose are the two most important elements of a happy and healthy life.

This is something that is made clear by the Harvard Study of Adult Development – after almost 80 years of research on what makes us happy and healthy, they have found that strong relationships and having a sense of purpose are key to long-term well-being.

Unfortunately, many care institutions fail to recognize these needs, which often leads to loneliness among the elderly.

According to an article in Perspectives on Psychological Science, loneliness can increase mortality by 26 percent!

That’s why it’s so important for aging people to maintain connections with friends and family who can provide the kind of companionship that nursing homes aren’t able to offer.

Similarly, many hospitals are not set up in a way which helps ensure that patients are placed in suitable nursing homes where their need for purpose can be filled.

Doctors may feel pressured to move them along quickly, resulting in inadequate care or even abuse.

This is illustrated through the story of Neeta: her relatives chose a nursing home close to them instead of doing proper research on it.

As a result she experienced malnutrition due to neglect and had no other option than hospice care.

Fortunately, there still exist some truly inspiring stories out there where elderly people get all they need from care facilities too – but generally speaking aging people need relationships and purpose outside these institutions if they’re going to lead happy lives!

The Unfortunate Reality Of Treating Elderly Patients: How A Lack Of Research Into Their Medical Care Can Lead To Serious Consequences

As Aronson, a doctor-in-training, quickly learned while caring for Anne, an elderly patient, the effects of medications are different when applied to older people.

This is because before 2019’s National Institute of Health Inclusion Across Lifespan Policy, drug trials did not have to include trials with elderly people.

One example is atrial fibrillation which affects mostly the elderly but can be treated with drugs that may cause confusion in this group.

Despite this potential side effect, these drugs remain widely prescribed as they are considered “trial proven”.

The same happened with Anne when Aronson prescribed an antidepressant which can lead to extremely low sodium levels in elderly individuals causing lethargy and confusion or even death in some cases, but this was something Aronson only found out after learning more about it from recently published case reports.

Unfortunately, by then Anne was already readmitted to the hospital prompting questions from her son Jack concerning Aronson´s competency as a doctor-in-training.

Questioning The Assumptions Of Aging: Why Growing Old Doesn’T Necessarily Mean Falling Ill

We’ve all seen it; the idea that old age is some sort of disease with inevitable symptoms.

In our culture, anything that comes with age—or anything that resembles the “typical” elderly person—is viewed as a negative occurrence.

A 95-year-old man talking to his doctor about knee pain probably won’t be met with much enthusiasm; after all, what can you expect from a knee that’s almost 100 years old? This same sort of apathy could have life-threatening consequences for others, like Lynn.

Lynn was 79 and healthy when one night she started acting a bit strange.

Her daughter Veronica grew concerned—had Lynn adjusted any medications? The paramedics that arrived assumed her behavior was part and parcel of growing older and didn’t take any further action.

But Lynn wasn’t suffering from usual elderly confusion or drowsiness; rather, she had begun bleeding inside her skull on Friday night and soon suffered a major stroke due to inadequate medical care in response.

Elderhood isn’t always synonymous with midnight confusion or general apathy—and it’s dangerous to assume otherwise!

The Dangers Of A Prescribing Cascade: One Man’s Story Of How Too Many Medications Can Lead To Misery


The story of Dimitri is a reminder that prescribing drugs for every single symptom can result in drug-induced health complications, especially among the elderly.

Dimitri, at age 79 with advanced Parkinson’s and many chronic diseases, was taking ten medications as prescribed by his doctor.

When Aronson examined Dimitri’s list of medications, he found that two of them were on a list of medications that have adverse effects on older people.

Further investigation from Aronson revealed that all the medications were intended to treat the side effects of one another – an action known as “prescribing cascade,” which occurs when multiple drugs are given to treat the side effects caused by other drugs.

This resulted in Dimitri developing drug-induced Parkinson’s and dementia; until these drugs were stopped, Dimiri wasn’t able to talk or eat and he had become unresponsive.

Fortunately, Aronson stopped eight of the medications and began reducing others; after six weeks, Dimitri moved to an assisted living unit where he recovered fully.

This example proves that prescribing multiple drugs – even if appropriate for elderly patients – can have devastating consequences due to the way their bodies react differently to certain medications than do adults of a younger age.

It is important for doctors to be aware of the interactions between different medications before prescribing them in order to ensure that seniors are not put at risk for drug-induced health complications.

How Political Bias Leads To Unfairness In The Accessibility Of Health Care For The Elderly

It can be incredibly challenging to remain independent as you get older, and yet many of the resources that would aid in this process aren’t covered by health insurance plans.

Many elderly patients need assistive devices such as walkers, hearing aids, dentures, and glasses.

Unfortunately, these devices are often considered “nonmedical” services and are therefore not paid for by health insurance providers.

Rich people have access to these types of services, but for most people it can be financially out of reach.

Those on Medicaid may find that these items are covered – if not all of them then at least an approved number – but those who do not qualify for Medicaid will have no help from their health care provider.

In today’s medical system in the United States, high-priced surgical interventions are seen as necessary medical treatments while assistive devices – like hearing aids or glasses – are deemed nonessential and therefore excluded from coverage altogether.

In essence politicians create a situation where they receive benefit from industries that profit off expensive medical treatments while simultaneously ignoring the importance of preventative care before any type of disease sets in.

It is up to us to challenge these views both politically and personally so that we may counteract their adverse effects when our own elderhood arrives.

Wrap Up

The key takeaway from Elderhood is that no matter what age we are, we can all take on improving our future elderly self so that we can live in joy and fulfillment.

We must make an effort to challenge biases and educate ourselves about medical needs for the elderly.

This also means talking about death openly, which may be difficult, but accepting the truth will make it easier for us to say important things at the right time.

Taking these steps will ensure a better elderhood for everybody.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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