Being Mortal

Being Mortal

eBook - 2014
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From surgeon and bestselling author Atul Gawande, a book that has the potential to change medicine--and lives. Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming the dangers of childbirth, injury, and disease from harrowing to manageable. But when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should. Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients' anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them. And families go along with all of it. In his bestselling books, Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, has fearlessly revealed the struggles of...
Publisher: 2014
ISBN: 9780385677011
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Mar 27, 2020

My wife recommended this to me. From the title it sounded like another how-to book, a list of things to deal with regarding death and aging. How wrong my assumption!
It is a moving, narrative exploration of several issues surrounding death and aging in current American society. Each chapter looks at a different aspect but does so from the point of view of those affected by the topic, from elder care to end of life directives to hospice.
The epilogue is deeply personal and perfectly caps a very moving and informative book.

Cheryl_in_IT Jan 30, 2020

I listened to this in eAudio - it was well narrated.

Emotionally difficult to take in, even with all my life experience attached, it is still uncomfortable to confront our own mortality and that of those we have not yet lost. I will admit this book brought me down a bit, but I feel like it was worth it, as the information was invaluable. Even when I was hearing things I already knew, it offered context I hadn't considered and gave me much to think about.

It's a book I hesitate to recommend, as I know it is difficult content to process, but I do feel it is well worth it when considering our own future options and in helping make sure our loved ones are able to have good quality, meaningful life in their later years or last days.

Jan 24, 2020

Everyone should read this book. It provides an eye-opening look into the how the medical profession and informed family members can improve the quality of life for their aging or ill loved ones.

Nov 11, 2019

Excellent on so many levels.
Should be required reading for Life!

Nov 10, 2019

Insightful and informative look at the business of aging and medical interventions, and how it can and should be reformed. I was already familiar with some of the innovations and services as well as the need for reform, but was grateful for the candid and thoughtful review in this book. Must read for anyone entering any health profession. I required my students to listen to Dr. Gawande's interview on NPR, but wish I had read the book earlier, as I would have made it required reading in my courses.

Oct 11, 2019

Insightful, inspiring and highly useful perspective about how the current system of care for elders and the terminally ill evolved in housing and medicine: retirement communities and assisted living, gerontology and hospice. Great storytelling illuminates why the system is mostly dehumanizing, but sometimes asking the right questions, and prioritizing *living* over safety can lead to better quality of life and medical outcomes.

Oct 05, 2019

This book should be a must read for every physician practicing medicine. Focus needs to change to the wishes of the patient, not the interest in pills and surgeries. Some of us do not wish to be saved! Rather, a natural death is desired. The author recognizes this and closes his book with these thoughts of concern after his review of different lives.

ArapahoeMaryA Aug 01, 2019

Gawande presents a compelling case against the treatment-at-any-cost philosophy of medicine. In our quest to prolong life, we do not adequately address age-related frailty, and utterly fail to help patients mentally prepare for death.

May 23, 2019

Borrowed from Margo DeMoor. It was discussed at their joint book club meeting last year. Very well-written and right-on. He addressed end-of-life issues and the need for good quality of life rather than lengthened life, the move to change the face of care for the elderly. Shows how nursing homes have it all wrong.

Apr 25, 2019

If you are older then 50 and you have elderly parents this book is very good to start asking the necessary questions of those age groups. Very well written with not just a good amount of research behind it but a great intellect and heart.

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ArapahoeMaryA Aug 01, 2019

We've created a multitrillion-dollar edifice for dispensing the medical equivalent of lottery tickets — and have only the rudiments of a system to prepare patients for the near certainty that those tickets will not win. Hope is not a plan.

Dec 01, 2016

Death, of course, is not a failure. Death is normal. Death may be the enemy, but it is also the natural order of things.

Apr 10, 2016

5 Key Questions at the end of Life:

1. What is your understanding of your current health or condition?
2. What are your fears or worries?
3. What are your goals and priorities?
4. Are there any tradeoffs you are willing to make?
5. What would a good day be like?

Jan 17, 2016

When I was a child, the lessons my father taught me had been about perseverance: never to accept limitations that stood in my way. As an adult watching him in his final years, I also saw how to come to terms with limits that couldn't simply be wished away. When to shift from pushing against limits to making the best of them is not often readily apparent. But it is clear that there are times when the cost of pushing exceeds its value. pg 262

Jan 17, 2016

In the end, people don't view their life as merely the average of all its moments -- which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people's minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life may be empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. pg 238

Jan 17, 2016

...Courage is strength in the face of knowledge of what is to be feared or hoped. Wisdom is prudent strength. pg 232

Jan 17, 2016

The choices don't stop, however. Life is choices, and they are relentless. No sooner have you made one choice than another is upon you. pg 215

Jan 17, 2016

Even our brains shrink: at the age of thirty, the brain is a three-pound organ that barely fits inside the skull; by our seventies, gray-matter loss leaves almost an inch of spare room. That's why elderly people like my grandfather are so much more prone to cerebral bleeding after a blow to the head -- the brain actually rattles around inside. pg 31

PimaLib_ElizabethT Aug 12, 2015

People die only once. They have no experience to draw on. They need doctors and nurses who are willing to have hard discussions and say what they have seen, who will help people prepare for what is to come--and escape a warehoused oblivion that few really want.

Nov 06, 2014

Consider the fact that we care deeply about what happens to the world after we die.If self interest were the primary source of meaning in life, then it wouldn't matter to people if an hour after their death everyone they know were to be wiped from the face of the earth. Yet it matters greatly to most people. We feel that such and occurrence would make life meaningless. pg 126

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Dec 01, 2016

In 1945, most Americans died at home. By the 1980s that number was down to 17%. Today it is trending back upwards as more people pursue options that allow them to live out their final days in the comfort of their own homes. Doctor and writer Atul Gawande explores how dying became medicalized in the intervening years, as science offered new innovations for beating back disease in the 20th century. Encompassing both the elderly and the terminally ill, Gawande examines how end of life care falls short of providing patients with the best possible quality of life in their final days, instead focusing on what else can be tried to fix the unfixable, and beat back the inevitable. From nursing homes to cancer wards to assisted living facilities to hospice care, Gawande reveals the shortcomings of the institutions we have created for the dying, and asks how we can be better prepared to face the question of mortality with clear eyes and compassion.

Nov 06, 2014

While rather horrific to read there was a lot of valuable information. As you age, or if you get a disastrous disease, your body and mind are eroding to varying degrees. Our medical industry is only designed with prolong life not to ensure quality of life (and this comes from a doctor within the system). You get to decide what treatment you want and don't want (and should base that on the outcomes you want and are realistic - not what the doctor tells you have to do). Ask questions and face the reality of your situation. Some times there is no good outcome. If things are grim don't be hesitant to start Hospice care (it can manage the time you have left ). There are basically 3 types of doctors. Doctor Knows Best will just say here is what is wrong with you and here is how we will treat it. Doctor informative will say here is what is wrong with you and here are 10 options to treat it. The 3rd (and most rare) are the interpretive doctors. They tell you what is wrong with you and then ask what your goals are for you life, and then help you find a plan to meet them. As you age you should know what you want out of life and what is an acceptable life and what is not. Communicate your wishes clearly so that your loved ones are not left guessing as to what to do (this is a heavy burden to put on them). Have the hard conversations early even though it is hard. Nursing homes and assisted living are mostly designed for the children of aging parents (see the first quote I added). While a lot of aged care facilities are like prisons, there are exceptions (though rare). Dr. Gawande asserts that people need a reason to live and some degree of control over their lives. and will have better lives if they feel they do. It can be as simple as a house plant to care for or deciding if they want to eat something that may be bad for them.

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