Mary L. Flett, Ph.D.

Looking back on it now, it seems remarkable that a 14-year-old girl would be responsible for caring for her wheelchair-bound grandfather, including bathing, toileting, managing medications, and meals, but it was just what you did for family then. Dr. Mary Flett, retired clinical psychologist and author, didn’t realize she would make a career out of working with aging adults when she was caring for her beloved maternal grandfather. She just enjoyed the time she spent with this remarkable man who taught her what it means to age with dignity.

Dr. Mary’s childhood was filled with loss. Her paternal grandfather died when she was 3, her maternal grandmother died when she was 10, and her father died when she was 14. Her grandfather helped her deal with these losses and, even though he was confined to a wheelchair, provided her with guidance and advice throughout his 86 years.

Dr. Mary moved to California in the late 1970s. After a career as a paralegal, she returned to grad school, completing her doctorate in transpersonal psychology and becoming a licensed psychologist. Working at the County level, she learned first-hand what the challenges were to provide services to marginalized people, including elders. In her private practice, she focused on the needs of aging adults, including helping them navigate systems of care. Her prior work as a paralegal and county employee gave her unique insight into how broken the system was and where possible workarounds existed.

Dr. Mary has always been a teacher, whether it was to her collection of dolls or in front of a classroom. She has introduced undergraduates and graduates to the complexity and paradoxes of human behavior and shared knowledge with clinicians and family members about brain function in Alzheimer’s Disease. She has trained hundreds of licensed professionals in diagnosis and in navigating the complexities of Medicare.

With her love of sharing knowledge, she has founded Five Pillars of Aging. Her company offers self-paced courses about how to age better and age well. She has written a three-book series, Aging with Finesse, that shares her insights and observations about aging. She is a sought-after speaker and can be heard on numerous podcasts.