Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life, by Louise Aronson, M.D.. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019

There are a number of problems with the way society deals with aging, and Aronson covers them here. There are few drug trials that use older people; most trials are designed around middle aged, white, males. There is no one storage place of medical records, which creates a problem when a patient must go to a new provider or seeks emergency treatment. Medicare won’t cover hearing aids or glasses, but will cover cochlear implants or eye operations, much more expensive and invasive options. It’s easier to get chemotherapy paid for than palliative care (and hospice is underfunded; ours has to do fundraisers for all the things it provides that Medicare doesn’t pay for). Geriatricians are paid lower than most other medical specialties. And many more.

Sadly, Aronson does not offer solutions for all these things. Some things- such as affordable housing for the aging population that keeps them safe but allows independence- probably have no easy solutions. But she offers a lot to think about, a lot of things to start the conversation about these problems and how to remedy them.

The author is a geriatrician and has been caregiver to an aging mother. She, herself, is officially ‘old’. For a good while, she was a home visit physician and saw all manner of situations the elderly were living in- some horrific, but with no affordable way to change them. She is well placed to write about the care of the aging population.

It’s an interesting and accessible read, despite the technical subjects. But it has its flaws; it wanders at times, and it’s a bit long on the author’s education and how she found her way to gerontology. I found some sections slow reading- but that is due to my own interests, not a problem with the writing. I feel it’s an important book; 10,000 people turn 65 every single day in the US alone, and all should be treated with dignity and good care (as should everyone, of any age or medical status). This book stands as a wake-up call.

1 comment:

  1. I may check this one out if my library if they have it. Being elderly myself with a 35 year career in health care it should be familiar territory for me.