Being Mortal

Being Mortal

Medicine and What Matters in the End

eBook - 2014
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In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its endingMedicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.
Publisher: 2014
Branch Call Number: Overdrive
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Reproduction: Electronic reproduction. New York : Metropolitan Books, 2014. Requires OverDrive Read (file size: N/A KB) or Adobe Digital Editions (file size: 1192 KB) or Kobo app or compatible Kobo device (file size: N/A KB) or Amazon Kindle (file size: N/A KB)
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc
ISBN: 9781627790550

Opinion

From Library Staff

One of Gawande's best about life and death decisions, made more personal by his interspersing of his family's personal journey with his father's final illness. How to handle the delicate discussion of when "hope is no longer an option" is central. Also made into a PBS documentary.


From the critics


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a
aakenson
Oct 19, 2018

This book was a moving and informative assessment on the state of care in our hospitals and nursing homes. This is a must read for people of any age to better care for our families and ourselves and to advocate for change in the medical community.

b
becker
Sep 27, 2018

This book will put you into a thoughtful, melancholy (let's face it - depressed) mood, but it is a necessary book that discusses important things that we all must consider. It addressed the role of the Medical community in cases where someone is near the end of their life. Large sections of the book focus on quality of life for seniors but it also addresses those that have terminal illness. It will give you a pit in your stomach and maybe even a tear to your eye but it sure will make you consider the quality of life you want for yourself or your loved ones and will allow you to see things from another angle.

u
Uchinaguchi
Sep 23, 2018

Gawande has started a conversation most Americans actively try to avoid, but the real gift of this book is being able to continue the conversation with others. Gawande provides information, giving readers a behind the scenes look into the minds of medical practitioners and the medical system. He then shares case studies, examples from people be has met and worked with and how they've gone about these difficult conversations, before sharing from his own first hand experience. There is no formula for talking about death and what matters in the end, but it is important to talk about. Gawande is vulnerable and honest, inviting the reader into this intimate conversation. Everyone can benefit from this book, as it will help deepen relationships by getting through the difficult conversations. For most readers, myself included, this would be a book chosen due to circumstances, but I hope it becomes a staple for everyone.

p
Pisinga
Sep 19, 2018

Perhaps the topic of the book is of concern to many people. But to me it seemed that the author have limited to give examples from the lives of sick elderly patients that he met during his career , including members of his own family. He's asking rhetorical question over and over-what should be change in a medical approach to treat those who are dying. But he himself doesn't have an answer-how to do that.

f
frispirit13
Jul 08, 2018

Everyone should read this book. We need to open up the conversations about death and dying and this book is a great starting off point.

JCLCherylMY Jul 07, 2018

Difficult subject matter? Check.
Important and informative? Check.
An essential read for every mortal being? Check.

c
ChiBookWoman
May 27, 2018

i want to be in line to read this updated edition as a large print book. currently cpl shows my "hold" request as cancelled.
This is an error. Please help correct. Thank you

o
orange_lobster_23
Apr 06, 2018

Gawande, a gifted surgeon, raises thoughtful questions as to how medicine can enhance
the quality of life as we face end-of life. He grapples with the paradoxical limitations of his profession and anticipatory grieving as he struggles to guide his own father, also a surgeon, facing the end of his life. Good book discussion book.

s
SGANTIWALA
Feb 27, 2018

The beginning of this book is packed with statistics and it made me wonder why I even checked this book out. But boy, towards the end, I was crying. Absolutely touching and eye-opening. I would suggest all people read this.

h
htliang
Jan 09, 2018

Excellent discussion of end-of-life care. Do we trade "happiness" for "safety"? Should we introduce hospice early? What are the most important goals for those we love as they reach the final stages of life?
This is a must-read if you are elderly, caring for an aging parent, or have been given a terminal diagnosis.

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s
shayshortt
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.

l
LexiLou2
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?

m
mgianno
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

m
mgianno
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

m
mgianno
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

m
mgianno
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

m
mgianno
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.

j
john_doh17
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

j
john_doh17
Nov 06, 2014

We want autonomy for ourselves and safety for those we love. pg 106

Summary

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s
shayshortt
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.

j
john_doh17
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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