In a wonderful new book, “Elderhood,” Louise Aronson, MD, delves into aging that’s “neither nightmare nor utopian fantasy – a vision full of joy, wonder, frustration, outrage and hope…” I was captured from the first chapter, titled “Life,” through the final page.
It’s not all a pretty story, and I tried to figure out why I liked it so much. Then it dawned on me. I’m on the pathway of aging, and “Elderhood” is a guidebook to inform me of what is to come. It has so many engaging stories, some of them from Aronson’s own life, others from her work as a geriatrician, educator and professor of medicine.
For example, early on she writes about an informal study performed on medical students at the University of California, Berkeley. Students were asked what words came to them when they thought of old people. Their list included wrinkled, feeble, frail and sick.
The same students were asked what words they associated with elder people, and that list included leader, knowledge and respect.
Then I thought of my own self-talk and how I choose words to describe myself.
As I move along my pathway, I will never see myself as an old guy.
I’ll be that elder guy.