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. : )