Dr. Louise Aronson, a Harvard-trained geriatrician, points out three stages of life: childhood, adulthood and elderhood. She says the final stage, which begins at age 60, now frequently lasts up to 40 years, and medical delivery for this stage needs to be reworked.
Aronson, the author of "Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life," will be speaking at 1 p.m. Oct. 8 at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Livermore, and sharing practical steps on living for older people and receiving medical care.
She notes that people 60 and older need for those years to be as productive and comfortable as possible. Although people are living longer than ever before, society has turned old age into a disease, she says, a condition to be dreaded, disparaged, neglected and denied. The community should instead recognize it as a time rich in satisfying experiences that may not even have been possible when younger.
Later life also mandates being proactive to prevent or forestall complications of aging, she says. In "Elderhood," she cites programs such as fall prevention education as being more effective than dealing with the surgeries and rehabilitation required after a fall.
Aronson is a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, where she directs the UCSF medical humanities program. In her book, she includes anecdotes from her 25 years of caring for patients, as well as from her personal experiences of getting older and watching her parents age.
St. Charles Borromeo Church is located at 1315 Lomitas Ave. in Livermore. The talk is free as part of its Life Transitions for Aging Adults program.