Dr. Louise Aronson, nationally recognized geriatrician and NY Times Best Selling author, lectures to a full crowd at Willamette University’s Hudson Hall Auditorium.
On February 9, 2023, Salem Health Foundation provided a thought-provoking program featuring physician and author Louise Aronson, M.D. Her presentation was open to the public, and approximately 400 participants gathered in Hudson Hall at Willamette University to hear her speak.
Dr. Aronson is a practicing geriatrician and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). A graduate of Harvard Medical School, she has served as director of the Northern California Geriatrics Education Center, the UCSF Pathways to Discovery program, and currently leads the campus-wide Health Humanities and Social Advocacy Initiative.
Her lecture was based on her book Elderhood. In her book, Dr. Aronson contends that 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’s presentations tackled this epic topic with the precision of a scientist, the compassion of a clinician, and the eloquence of a literary writer.
Dr. Aronson noted that 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.
She related stories from her twenty-five years of caring for patients and drew 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.
One participant commented after the presentation, “Thanks for presenting a wonderful speaker like Dr. Aronson. It is very important for all of us to be aware of difficulties of elderhood, but most of us don’t talk about it.” Another said, “Appreciated the insight she provided, including ageism bias.” Still another commented, “I really appreciated Dr. Aronson’s perspective and ability to communicate well about issues our society is faced with related to eldercare.”