Tuesday, June 30, 2015

484 (2015 #41). Being Mortal

by Atul Gawande

This is an important book for everyone to read, as we will all die some day.  In particular, if you have aging parents or other loved ones, you should definitely read this book.  I took the advice of my younger sister, a lawyer who also volunteers in many senior service programs, and read it.  I'm glad I did.

Atul Gawande is a general surgeon, researcher, and writer (this is his fourth book, and he has also written numerous articles for The New Yorker, Slate, and other well-known publications).  His writing focuses on the practice of medicine, particularly its ethics and costs.

Subtitled "Medicine and What Matters in the End," this book is really about quality of life issues.  Through research and case studies of patients (including his own grandfather and father), Gawande addresses such topics as independent living, assisted living, nursing homes, palliative care, and hospice.

Medicine has advanced to such a degree that it's possible to live a long life even with serious illnesses and conditions.  The message I got from this book is that it is important for medical professionals and friends and loved ones to ask the aging or ill person what s/he wants.  Sometimes it's to go all out and do whatever it takes to stay alive.  Sometimes it's to stop treatments and procedures that are only prolonging pain and let nature take its course.  Sometimes it's something in between, providing enough palliative care to enable one to live a life of choice.  Sometimes what is right at one point in time changes in the future.  What's important is to have those difficult conversations with your doctors or your loved ones.

This book was so valuable to me that it is one I am going to purchase, rather than just borrow from the library.  I recommend that everyone at least read it.

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[This e-book was borrowed from and returned to a public library]

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