Author Talk: Elderhood by Louise Aronson

Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life
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In Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life, Harvard-trained and San Francisco-born 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.

Louise the doctor 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.

Louise the writer is a graduate of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and the author of articles, essays and stories that explore the intersection of medicine and life. Her first book, A History of the Present Illness, was a finalist for both the Chautauqua Prize and the PEN America debut fiction award. Her second book, the non-fiction Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, and Reimagining Life was released to starred reviews and national media attention in June 2019. It has been described as “stunning, extraordinary,” “beautiful, enormous in scope,” and “sophisticated, nuanced beyond almost anything.” Her writing has been featured on National Public Radio and in publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, and San Francisco Chronicle. She has earned 4 Pushcart nominations and a MacDowell Colony fellowship.

Louise the person is a fifth-generation San Franciscan who was born at the same medical center where she now works, a fact that sometimes leads her to comment that she hasn’t gone very far in life, just down fifteen floors and over a building or two. Once a History and Anthropology major, she chose a career in medicine in hopes of improving human lives and was well into her career when she discovered that she could be at least as useful with a pen or keyboard as with a prescription pad and stethoscope. She lives on one of San Francisco’s fourteen steep hills with her family.


This is a Wise Up! program for learning and living well at any age. Activities for seniors and older adults.

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