BEING MORTAL – Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

9 comments

This book was recommended to me by several people – including Meredith, thank you – and came to me at the right time. It is an easy read, even though it is a difficult subject. Much of it is heartbreaking, all is insightful. Dr. Gawande’s writing is informed, intelligent, conversational, personal. The first 2/3 of the book deals with aging, the aging process, how our approach to it has changed historically. And then he digs deep into ways in which we came move toward a place where we honor those last years in terms of living, rather than safety and extension of the inevitable. He highlights organizations that get it right, that provide living environments where people can live out their last years without giving up their sense of self. It is an eye opener, something we all understand in our gut but maybe have not shaped a discussion around.

The final third deals with terminal illness and how technology and medical advances have completely altered the conversation around it. So many folks live their last days, weeks, months, in misery and disconnect from what they care about most. How do we find the balance between what we can do, medically, and what we should do? It begins with conversation, with asking what is most important and what trade offs a person is willing and not willing to make in order to stay in touch with that.

This is an important book and one that should be gobbled up but anyone who claims to be a medical professional. And the rest of us also. : )

9 comments on “BEING MORTAL – Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande”

  1. I read this book several years ago, and it made quite an impact. I wish it were required reading in every medical school and elder care facility. I’m glad you had it on your reading list. Your review is a reminder that I should be recommending it to others; it’s an important resource. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Julie, I am so glad you found this book and it was meaningful to you. You have reminded me about quite a few things that I learned from the book.. I barely had time to digest the information before I was putting it all to the test, working through my own family’s challenges with managing my aging parent’s health care and living situations.

    What you say here perfectly captures the essence of the book, as I experienced it as well:

    “…And then he digs deep into ways in which we came move toward a place where we honor those last years in terms of living, rather than safety and extension of the inevitable. He highlights organizations that get it right, that provide living environments where people can live out their last years without giving up their sense of self.”

    Yes! This is all so important and critical. Thank you for sharing your review 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I read this book a few years ago, too. I’m a fan of Gawande’s work. Just last week I heard someone say she had been deputized by a man’s friends to go to him and explain the error he is making by refusing to endure further treatment for his advanced cancer. (None of us are young…or even middle-aged people.) I thought of Gawande’s book and other books and articles I’ve read when I heard this. Why isn’t this his business?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Teri, why? I think, as a species, we want to hang on as long as we can. And we have come to trust medical technology with the answers, rather than our own inner knowing, the knowing that understands that quality is a greater blessing than quantity.

      Liked by 1 person

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