Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

by Atul Gawande
4.6 109


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Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 109 reviews.
Jo_Kline_Cebuhar More than 1 year ago
It is the best book I have read on how to effectively deal with end-of-life choices (and I've read a ton of them). The most notable characteristic of the book is Dr. Gawande's honest reflections on his past shortcomings as a physician. His awakenings came from being truly mindful of the passing of several patients and then of his own father. It contains practical guidance for having a meaningful conversation with your physician (or your patient, doc) about realistic choices for care at life's end. An invaluable resource for anyone who is now witness to the final chapter of life or may be in the future (come to think of it, that's every one of us . . .).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I usually read fiction. This book answers so many questions I have been pondering of late, and it gives me hope. It's for everyone, young, old or in between.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a senior citizen and someone who works with hospice patients, I felt the book was a treasure! It helped my understanding of the aging process. PiPart,Los Angeles
Swampgal2 More than 1 year ago
Buying two more copies this morning, one for a medical student and another to circulate among the staff of my parents' continuing care community. This is an important book for any of us concerned with aging-- of parents, family, ourselves.  Dr. Gawande gives shape and voice to issues we need to be discussing. 
gjbwi More than 1 year ago
Great book. As I struggle with my own health problems, this book gives me perspective.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book addresses in a very captivating way some of the moral and ethical questions that need to be discussed about illness and dying.    A compassionate and smart book about our death and dying policies and how they affect real people. 
John_F48 More than 1 year ago
Atul presents a thought provoking discussion of end-of-life issues in our post-industrial age by discussing what we all fear as we approach retirement. What do we do when our bodies begin to breakdown to the point that we can no longer function well in our homes and apartments. The industrial approach is warehousing to rest homes where the staff regiments our lives to their convenience in an antiseptic and sterile environment that is frequently depressing and expensive. He contrasts that to his father's former homeland, India, where the family is a community that supports its older members usually at the expense of an older son. It is a way of life that is disappearing in India today because of India's inustrialization process. He discusses the quality of life issues, some innovative approaches to living for the middle-class and below, and some hard decisions that patients and doctors must face when recognized terminal conditions become present. It is well written and should be considered those closest to the issues raised.
ThinkerbelleVG More than 1 year ago
Everyone would gain so much by reading this book, but for medical professionals, it should be positively required. Dr. Gawande writes in a way that touches the heart of being human with compassion, insight, understanding. His medical knowledge and frank revelations are wonderful. We are all going to die. Everyone we know will die - but how we approach it, most especially medically, can mean a world of difference. I highly recommend the book and applaud Dr. Gawande. Thank you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written! I have a better understanding of how the healthcare system is failing our elderly and the terminally sick in providing the information that is needed to make the right decisions. Best book I have read in a long time.
tetonpilates More than 1 year ago
A sensitive and important book about a topic we aren't very good at discussing.  I have aging parents and in-laws, and the issues Dr. Gawande raises in "Being Mortal" hit pretty close to home.  Reading this made me think about my own wishes for the end of my life, and whether I've communicated them to my loved ones (answer: not yet)  He is a humble and intelligent writer, and I appreciate the questions he raises about the medical field and how physicians and caregivers aren't well-trained to help patients navigate the hard conversations that are necessary.  I "enjoyed" this even though it stirred some uneasy thoughts for me.  Highly recommended. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a lifesaver and puts ageing into the proper perspective. I've read several articles and learned of new programs (Honoring Choices for example) about how people can better control their end-of-life decisions. This book explains the ageing process from both a physiological and psychological perspective. It is caring, informative and wonderful. It has really helped me in dealing with my older parents, and in managing my own affairs to be sure I am not a burden in my old age and get to live the life I want.
DoranneLongPTMS More than 1 year ago
This is a must-read book; we are all aging, going to have health issues, and need guidance in navigating the health-care system, whether we like it or not! We need to be aware of the costs and risks of prolonging our lives, and those of our loved ones. Atul shares his own personal, as well as professional journey as a surgeon, in learning to ask others, what are their fears and concerns; what is important to them; what are their goals, and what are the limits to what they are willing to do. As a fellow health care provider, and daughter, I will be more sensitive to provide guidance while being respectful of others' wishes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr Gawande writes about everyone's inevitable aging and/or dying. He follows family and patients, who are not all elderly, on this journey, making the book a very intimate read. The book is well researched as he recounts visits with innovators in elder living and palliative medicine. He writes in a warm, engaging manner that is not at all depressing, but hopeful, and at times even joyful. He faces our greatest fears about pain, and losing independence and choice in life, as we age and lose ability to function. He goes beyond death with dignity, to death surrounded by those we love, without pain (or almost so), and filled with peace. Read it, share it with those you love, and more importantly talk about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me by a friend of my elderly mother. It was more than worth reading, bringing the reader up to date on how we have arrived at the way we treat our elderly, as well as what questions to ask as we help our elderly family members (and ourselves!) through the end years of our lives. The writer's style is engaging, and he uses enough case histories to clearly make his points. Since I finished it, I too have recommended it to several of my friends who have agreed that it was both well written and timely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A real look at a chapter of our life that we dont seem to talk about. Thank you for the conversations about facing mortality, the line in the sand, what is worth pressing for and what is a hard stop. Thank you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First "tell it like it is" approach to end of life issues that I have been able to find. Too often, family chooses to resist discussion of any of this. Will tray forcing this book on my children and maybe they will read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We all know that we are mortal and that someday we we will die. But this book is not about death. It's about life in the period after we can no longer care for our selves due to illness, accident, or old age and the day we draw our last breath. It's about setting priorities for our lives after the end is in sight so that our remaining days are spent fulfilling our own goals and not someone else's. It's also a message to the caretakers, friends, and relatives around us to understand this so they can assist in reaching those goals in our final days.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Being Mortal is the fourth book by American surgeon and author, Atul Gawande. Early on in his book, he tells us :“…the purpose of medical schooling was to teach how to save lives, not how to tend to their demise” and that “I knew theoretically that my patients could die, of course, but every actual instance seemed like a violation, as if the rules I thought we were playing by were broken. I don’t know what game I thought this was, but in it we always won”. But don’t get the wrong idea: this is not a book about dying, so much, as a book that looks at how the latter hours, days, weeks, months or even years of life can be improved. As we get older, and usually frailer (because there is no “…automatic defrailer…” [p44] available to us), we need to rethink where the emphasis should lie: “…our most cruel failure in how we treat the sick and the aged is the failure to recognise that they have priorities beyond merely being safe and living longer…” “We end up with institutions that address any number of societal goals – from freeing up hospital beds to taking burdens off families’ hands to coping with poverty among the elderly – but never the goal that matters to the people who reside in them: how to make life worth living when we’re weak and frail and can’t fend for ourselves”. Gawande’s wife’s grandmother, when institutionalised, remarked: “She felt incarcerated, like she was in prison for being old” Gawande backs up his ideas with plenty of data that is both fascinating and revealing. And while an information dump could be boring, he illustrates all this with the results of studies and anecdotes about real people. It doesn’t get much more personal than the experience of his own father’s decline. “Our responsibility, in medicine, is to deal with human beings as they are. People die only once. They have no experience to draw on. They need doctors and nurses who are willing to have the hard discussions and say what they have seen, who will help people prepare for what is to come…” While many practitioners of palliative care will be familiar with what Gawande says, this book should be compulsory reading for most health care professionals. Oncologists, gerontologists, surgeons and intensivists (and their patients!) in particular would benefit from reading this book from cover to cover; those of us with ageing or debilitated family members, or those wanting to plan for their own eventual decline, would also find this book interesting and useful. He concludes: “We’ve been wrong about what our job is in medicine. We think our job is to ensure health and survival. But really it is larger than that. It is to enable well-being. And well-being is about the reasons one wishes to be alive. Those reasons matter not just at the end of life, or when debility comes, but all along the way. Whenever serious sickness or injury strikes and your body or mind breaks down, the vital questions are the same: What is your understanding of the situation and its potential outcomes? What are your fears and what are your hopes? What are the trade-offs you are willing to make and not willing to make? And what is the course of action that best serves this understanding?” Recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a conformation of the fundamental belief that I have about the process of aging, illness, care and dying. Also having to appropriate approach about honoring the wishes of ones loved one. Excellent, I enjoyed reading every page. Andria P. Harris.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An honest, refreshing and brave step forward. This doctor moves beyond the limitations of traditional medical training- and his own fears- and shines light on an essential truth we might otherwise have missed......
Anonymous 7 days ago
I thought the book was going to be depressing and uncomfortable, talking about illness and death and all. But it actually gives you a calming feeling. Gawande is a humble, intelligent author. Great read!
Anonymous 11 days ago
A life changing book for anyone with aging family, or anyone working in the senior industry. Throughout the book Mr. Gawande tells us things that we should already know intuitively, but it crystallized in your brain when he puts the lessons into clear words illustrated by a real life story. This book is a must read for all mortals. My sincere thanks to the author.
Anonymous 20 days ago
A difficult read because it confronts the reader with difficult questions it is much easier not to ask. A worthwhile read for the very same reason. Read it.
BookGirlNY More than 1 year ago
Have you ever been afraid of death and wonder what the end is like? Thank you to Bookreporter for the copies of Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. My Book club and I read the book and the following is our review. Have you ever been afraid of death and wonder what the end is like? And who isn’t? Being Mortal is a must read! You will not be able to pick up this book and be untouched. Our book group members were able to reflect on the different practices in our culture regarding aging, medicine and illness. We all agreed that every person that reads this book will read it differently based on age, experience and health issues. This was true in our club. Our members range from 42-82 and each had a different topic that struck them the most. One strength of the book is the balanced narrative-moving between factual information from a medical professional and the personal accounts of real people, who change and struggle with accepting their mortality. The book has life and is very empowering. It makes a strong point that the individual can make choices about what they want through their lives and right up to the end. As readers we came to care about the people in the book and relished seeing the writers evolution of growth and understanding. We appreciated the set of experiences and personal development by a doctor who had to confront his own failure to see life as a beautiful journey. We glimpsed cultures featured in this book that see aging and death as a rite of passage; giving us a sense of beauty of our mortality in all forms and stages. We also questioned why Western culture has abandoned these practices. Our book discussion included many of our own experiences, prompted by considerations of ideas and situations in Being Mortal. We talked about important things, with humor and seriousness and thoughtfulness. A good life can include a sense of dealing with our own mortality. This will be a part of our experiences time and time again. To quote Atul Gawande: “Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death, but a good life to the very end.”
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande seems an incredibly relevant read at a time when health insurance and medical care are so frequently in the (American) news. The author, a medical doctor, informs readers without ever talking down to them, tells personal anecdotes without ever aggrandizing his own achievements, and draws those willing to follow these tales deep into the kind of discussions we too frequently avoid—discussions that include the surprising reminder that parents often don’t want to live and die under their children’s care. Life ends, as the author reminds us, in spite of medicine’s best practices. Lives slow down. Abilities fade. But misery might be more of an enemy than death. The author shows how experience taught him the questions that ease life’s end. What do you expect? What do you want? What will you sacrifice? He invites us to see those questions play out in other people’s lives, including his own father’s. And he shows how well-advised thought before the end can inform well-advised decisions in times of panic. Being Mortal is a difficult book to read, as it deals with a difficult subject. But it’s also a smooth read, uplifting in its promise that there are better ways, and hopeful in its many different depictions of care for all the elderly, not just those slated to soon die. I found myself imagining an aging future without so much dread, and pondering where I might find good places to live when the time comes around. Disclosure: A friend loaned me the book as people we know are now in need of care.