Elderhood

PUBLISHED 2019

“I hope everyone who has a stake in older people, which is ultimately all of us, will read this book.”

— Mary Pipher, author of Women Rowing North

For more than 5,000 years, “old” has been defined as beginning between the ages of 60 and 70. Now that humans are living longer than ever before, many people alive today will be elders for 30 years or more. Yet at the very moment that most of us will spend more years in elderhood than in childhood, we’ve made old age into a disease, a condition to be dreaded, disparaged, neglected, and denied.

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 vision full of joy, wonder, frustration, outrage, and hope about aging, medicine, and life itself.

The story of aging is the story of what it means to be human. It’s both a timeless tale and one that’s rapidly changing with advances in science, technology, and society. Aronson tackles this epic topic with the precision of a scientist, the compassion of a clinician, and the eloquence of a literary writer.

Elderhood will transform how readers think and feel about aging. This intensely compassionate book reframes “life’s third act” in ways both revolutionary and revelatory.

“In the latter years there are possibilities for joy, transcendence, and meaning, but also for just the opposite. Aronson writes like a memoirist while giving us scientific insight, philosophical wisdom, and wise counsel for a journey and destination we all share. Elderhood is a lovely and thoughtful exploration of this voyage.”

— Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

As Louise Aronson says, "Life offers just two possibilities: die young or grow old." This searing, luminous book is for everyone who hopes to accomplish the latter and remain fully human as they do. It will challenge your assumptions and open your mind -- and it just might change your life.

— Lucy Kalanithi, widow of Paul Kalanithi, and editor of When Breath Becomes Air

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