... one of the most significant books on aging and ageism in America. Elderhood should be required reading, alongside Dr. Atul Gawande’s bestselling Being Mortal...

— GBO News examination of aging and the human condition encompassing poignant stories and the viewpoints of medical experts, writers, historians, and scientists. The book is beautifully written and offers countless moments of keen insight.

Kirkus Review, Starred Review

Louise Aronson's Elderhood is a passionate, deeply informed critique ... Though the subject of this provocative book is the elderly, its message touches the entire span of human life...such a vitally important book.


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

[A] penetrating meditation on geriatrics . . . Aronson’s deep empathy, hard-won knowledge, and vivid reportage makes for one of the best accounts around of the medical mistreatment of the old.

Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review

Mixing empathy for the whole person and fury toward the systems that undermine that, Aronson draws on published studies and scientific data, as well as numerous literary sources ... to craft this monumental book. Intimidating as it may seem, elderhood becomes welcoming and generous in Aronson's deft care.

Shelf Awareness, Starred Review

In Elderhood, the physician-writer Louise Aronson provides an honest and humane analysis of what it means to grow old in America. Her book—part memoir, history, and social critique—is deeply sympathetic to elders and sharply critical of the “anti-aging industry” that has tried to turn being elderly into some sort of disease. I highly recommend this wonderful book to anyone who plans on growing old in this country.

— Sandeep Jauhar, author of Heart: A History

Aronson’s Elderhood is dazzling, rich with knowledge gleaned from her professional work as a geriatrician, her personal experience as a daughter, her common sense, and her thorough analysis of our social supports and cultural messaging. Her arguments are powerful, and her conclusions are revolutionary. 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

In Elderhood, Louise Aronson draws on the experiences of her own life and the experiences of the many lives she has touched as a geriatrician to think about age and aging, combining the insights of science and medicine with the wisdom of literature and human history, all narrated with the practical realism of the caring clinician.  It's a wise and beautiful book, to be cherished by anyone who hopes to keep on growing, aging, and learning.

— Perri Klass, MD, Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics, NYU

Elderhood is a landmark work that argues for a greater understanding and wider utilization of geriatric medicine as well as a long-overdue re-visioning of what it means to grow old. In a world of increasing numbers of older adults, Aronson’s highly readable, absorbing, and thought-provoking book should serve as a guide for how our culture must change in order to provide a future in which all of us can age well...

— Changing Aging

“Aronson’s examination of medical culture in stories, of the brutality and tenderness at home and hospital, is a gem.”

— Washington Independent Review of Books

"Aronson effectively illustrates just how jumbled life can be. Hope is limping barely one step ahead of sadness. Human devotion and division, responsibility to self and others are only a smidgen of the subject matter examined by talented and knowledgeable Aronson." 

— Booklist

"Dr. Aronson writes lovely, nuanced stories...[and] joins the ranks of those immortalizing the small, realistic retails of modern medical care."

— The New York Times

" I felt I was seeing some truths about physicians for the first time … an outstanding book of short stories with a wealth of humanity, knowledge and warning. Highly recommended as well for its ease of reading and its ability to mesmerize."

— A Bookish Libraria

“Louise Aronson invites us --with very little fanfare, but with a profound sense of truth--to bear witness to what it really means to be a flawed, sick human being in a flawed, sick world. These stories are about medicine exactly in the way that medicine is about life.”

— Chris Adrian, author of The Children’s Hospital and The Great Night

I devoured these stories... She combines a doctor's eye with a writer's heart …

— Elizabeth Day award winning journalist and author of Scissor Paper Stone

“I was absolutely enthralled by these extraordinary stories.”

— isabel allende

"If your in search of fantastic literature (Yes, I said literature and not a series of stories told by a physician) then A History of the Present Illness is a must read. Does Louise really have time to doctor? If her writing wasn't fraught with such an accurate and profound understanding of what I have experienced, I would surely question whether one who has spent an inordinate amount of time learning how to be an MD could emote so eloquently. There is so much good here."

— Jordan Grumet MD

"Every one of the sixteen short stories in this interlocked collection is an exquisitely etched jewel… shining a spotlight on the state of American health care …" 

— Joystory

"Every one of the sixteen short stories in this interlocked collection is an exquisitely etched jewel… shining a spotlight on the state of American health care … The stories in this book and stories like them should become the underpinning of any further national discussion about health care legislation."

— Joystory Book Review

“A fascinating study of our fragile human condition, both physical and emotional. Here is a writer—and a doctor—whose empathy springs forth on every page.”

— Peter Orner

“Some of the most startling and memorable stories I’ve ever read...”

— Peter Orner, author of Am I Alone Here?

"Others have done this -- and done it well -- but Aronson's work stands out ... Her skill is in isolating the clearest, most revealing details and serving them up without sugar-coating.

— Rosina Lippi, author of Homestead and The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square

“An intimate look into how the aging process affects real lives and a non-didactic take on the importance of health care.”

— San Francisco Chronicle

"Aronson's voice is all her own. Her creative take on the social consequences of a life in medicine, whether from the perspective of a doctor or a patient, is highly original, and she is remarkably adept at variations in narrative and story style." 

— Shelf Awareness 

“The ethical dilemmas that abound in medicine are prominent but never swamp the stories: these are tales about people, as insightful as Lorrie Moore or Alice Munro.”

— The Independent

“If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the closed doors of the sick and the wounded--not on television or in movies but really--then this is the book for you....”

— Victoria Sweet, author of God’s Hotel and Slow Medicine

Get Louise's Newsletter