Louise Aronson

Five Things I've Learned About


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Join doctor, educator, professor of medicine, and Pulitzer Prize Award finalist Louise Aronson and discover the Five Things She’s Learned about improving our shared healthcare system, aging, and the decades of old age now increasingly known as elderhood.

Online Event Details

  • 90 minutes


  • Single-Class Ticket - $40.00

View the archive of my 90-minute class and discover the Five Things I’ve Learned about improving our shared healthcare system, aging, and the decades of old age now increasingly known as elderhood.

I’m Louise Aronson, a practicing geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the author of the Pulitzer-Prize-Award finalist book Elderhood, Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life, which draws from history, science, literature, popular culture – and from my own life – to weave a vision of old age that is full of ambition, humor, outrage, joy, wonder, and hope.

Please join me for my upcoming 90-minute class, Five Things I’ve Learned about Elderhood. In conversation with Kris Rebillot, I’ll share the most important lessons I’ve learned from a life devoted to improving our shared healthcare system, aging, and the decades of old age now increasingly known as elderhood. We’ll focus specifically on the most important things I’ve learned about empowering older adults to maintain their personhood and maximize their wellness as they age and how that can benefit people of all ages:

  1. Old age happens to (almost) all of us
  2. Being old is much better than people think
  3. Aging could be so much better than it is
  4. Our attitudes, policies, and systems manufacture many of the hardest parts of old age
  5. Elderhood is one of the most exciting areas of human potential and innovation

I’ll share how as a young person with no particular interest in aging, I stumbled upon the profound satisfactions and untapped opportunities of old age: After graduating from Harvard Medical School, I returned to my home town of San Francisco and began my residency at UCSF. My plan was to work with an underserved population, and like most young people, I hadn’t thought much about aging or old age. Years into my training, I realized that I loved caring for older people – their long, varied life stories, their complex medical and ethical challenges, and the fact that to take good care of them, I had to know about more than their organs and disease; I also needed to understand their living environment, their social networks, their community, and what mattered to them. 

Newly attentive to our health system’s older patients, I quickly saw that they were group most likely to be harmed by medical care and least likely to be anyone’s priority. This realization helped coalesce everything that horrified me about the medical establishment – the focus on disease at the expense of health and wellness, the payment systems that incentivize illness and hospitalization while ignoring prevention and community-based care, and treatment plans that too often left patients in worse shape than when they showed up for care. Improving the lives older adults and fixing our medical system’s failings turn out to be related issues with the potential to improve all lives. The chance to do that continues to motivate me today.

My life as a writer is also key to who I am and (to my surprise) to the latest twists and turns of my career. As a child, I dreamed of being a writer or an editor – the next Max Perkins, who was the Scribner editor of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. After becoming a physician, I finally had the confidence and security to turn back to writing, eventually earning an MFA at the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.

My success as the author of books, articles, essays and stories that explore the intersection of medicine and life helped me discover that I could be at least as useful with a pen or keyboard as with a prescription pad and stethoscope. As a doctor, I work to improve individual lives; as a writer, I work to change minds, hearts, policies, systems and communities.

If there is a single useful idea I hope you might take away from this conversation, it’s this: We would all have more fulfilling lives and less to fear about extreme old age if every time we speak of or make policy for children and adults or childhood and adulthood we also include elders and elderhood.

  • If old age seems like something that happens to other people, join us.
  • If your own old age scares you, join us.
  • If you want to find a focus for your work that offers immense opportunities personal, social, scientific and financial across all sectors of society, join us.
  • If you want to make the world a better place for people of all ages and backgrounds, join us.
  • If you want some of your most basic assumptions about old age challenged, join us.

I look forward to our conversation!

– Louise  

Louise Aronson

Louise Aronson, MD MFA, is a leading geriatrician, writer, educator, professor of medicine at UCSF and the author of the New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize finalist Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, and Reimagining Life.

A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Louise has received the Gold Professorship in Humanism in Medicine, the California Homecare Physician of the Year award, and the American Geriatrics Society Clinician-Teacher of the Year award. Her current work is focused on expanding geriatric care and public perceptions of old age to more accurately attend to the decades and diversity of elderhood, developing innovative programs and practices to empower older adults to retain agency and maximize wellness as they age.

At UCSF, Louise has served as director of the Pathways to Discovery program, the Northern California Geriatrics Education Center, the Optimizing Aging Project, and as Chief of Geriatrics Education. Her writing credits include the New York Times, Atlantic, Washington Post, Discover, Vox, JAMA, Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine, and she has been featured on TODAY, CBS This Morning, NPR’s Fresh Air, Morning Edition, Politico, Kaiser Health News, Tech Nation and the New Yorker.

Currently, she divides her time among patient care, community-based aging innovations, teaching, health advocacy in the media, and writing.

Living Better Longer

Discover inspiring classes that share the insights we need to make the most of the possibilities that await us as we age.

Learn more, view personal video invitations to all sessions, and get special discounted pricing using the Five Things I’ve Learned Multi Pass.

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Don’t get that ticket just yet!

This is just one of three Five Things I’ve Learned sessions devoted to the Living Better Longer class series.

Join Louise Aronson, Paul Irving, and Gordon Lithgow – and get special Series Ticket pricing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Your ticket entitles you to ongoing access to this class — even after the live session concludes.

If you purchase a ticket in time to join the class live, you can view the archive as soon as it’s posted, as often as you like. Look for an email with information about how to access the course archive within 48 hours of the end of the live class. Once you get it, you’ll have all the information you need to access it as you like across any and all devices you own.

If you purchase a ticket after the live class takes place, you can view the archive immediately, and you can return to it as frequently as you like

If you’d like a refund, we can happily credit the card you used to register for the session. Please send a note to pre.event@extendedsession.com , and we’ll confirm receipt as soon as we see it (We don’t need your credit card info – just your email address and date of purchase.)

There are two things to know:

  • Unfortunately, we can only accept cancellations and refunds up to 48 hours before a scheduled session.
  • There is sure to be a lapse in time between the time we refund your order and the time a corresponding credit appears on your credit card statement. So that you’re not left waiting and wondering, we’ll contact you as soon as we’ve processed the credit in our system.

For reasons we hope you’ll understand – the biggest of them the fact that we make a point of compensating the folks who host Five Things I’ve Learned classes as quickly as we can – we can’t accommodate refunds for tickets purchased within 48 of the start of a scheduled live event. We can also accommodate refund requests for the purchase of an archived session only within 24 hours from the time of purchase.

If you’ve purchased a ticket for this online class and you find that for some reason you can’t make the live session, you have two choices:

  • The first: View the session archive. You can view the session archive as soon as it’s posted – or any time, as often as you like. We’ll make an archive of this class available within 48 hours of the live session, and we’ll send every ticket holder details on how they can view it. As a ticket holder, you’re able to view this full session archive any time– as often as you like.
  • The second: Request a refund. Just send a note to pre.event@extendedsession.com, and we’ll help sort things out. Please keep in mind that we can only accommodate refund requests made more than 48 hours from the start of a live session.

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