Being Mortal

Being Mortal

Medicine and What Matters in the End

Book - 2014
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From surgeon and bestselling author Atul Gawande, a book that has the potential to change medicine--and lives.

Being Mortal looks at the way modern medicine has changed the experience of dying, what the implications of this change are for each of us, and what we would need to do to change a system that knows a lot about prolonging life but little about tending to death.
At the heart of this book is something larger and more lasting than even its agenda for how to effect change: it is a deeply humane portrayal of how our society copes with who we really are. We are not economic beings. We are not political beings. We are not digital beings or analog beings, social beings or solitary beings. We are mortal beings. And in that is every important thing to know about how we must live.
Publisher: Toronto :, Doubleday Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited,, 2014, ©2014.
ISBN: 9780385677028
Branch Call Number: 616. 029 GAW
Characteristics: 282 pages : illustrations


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May 13, 2021

La lecture de ce livre ...ça commence par une réflexion personnelle sur l'art de vivre et l'expression de ses volontés dans la transition vers le mourir en ayant les yeux bien ouverts face à la réalité qui nous entoure. J'en recommande la lecture à quiconque veut vivre sa vie pleinement et mourir sereinement.

Feb 04, 2021

A really helpful perspective on dying AND aging. Not too complicated, a good mix of stories.
This is a book I need to buy, 'cause I expect to come back to it over and over.

Nov 11, 2020

Gawande has appropriate modesty -- not offering a solution but ideas on how to do better.

Nov 09, 2020

This book was gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. Should be mandatory reading whence someone turns 25. Yes, only 25! It's so important to have a strong grasp on the precariousness of life here on Earth.

Sep 03, 2020

I read this book two years after my husband's death. The moral of this story is that people who provide medical treatment must converse with their patients. When there is a diagnosis tell them. If there is a prognosis discuss it with them. When an error is made in their treatment tell them the truth. And most of all treat them with respect.

Aug 21, 2020

Good for all to read and understand the importance of listening, never judging, and respecting the life decisions of our elders both family, and friends.

FPL_ElizabethC Aug 14, 2020

Some of us give thought to what it means to truly live, but few of us to how we prefer our lives to end. In fact, the subject is so taboo that even medical professionals avoid it, leading to decisions that dramatically decrease the quality of life during inevitable final days.

With characteristic honesty and humility, Gawande twines data, history, and anecdotes (both professional and personal) to encourage us to think about what really matters, what we most want to do, what living fully means when you know you have limited days. (As we all do.)

Aug 12, 2020

Calling all Baby Boomers and their children! This book is such an important one to read.

I have a confession. When I got to page 30, I considered not finishing it. I felt like it was one of the most depressing things I'd ever read, although probably a large part of that is due to the fact that I'm now considered to be *cough, cough* elderly. Knowing this book made the best-seller list I chose to go back and finish it.

How do we have a conversation about our care and well-being? I can tell you that I am absolutely going to do so! My husband and I want the same things (and we know that) but we need to let our son know, too. It would be beyond selfish to put those huge decisions on his shoulders.

Being Mortal concerns nursing homes - both the reeeally bad ones, as well as the wonderful improvements taking place in the good ones. It explains how we can age with self-respect and (hopefully) die with grace, by choosing palliative care. No more simply fighting for longer life and, instead, fighting for the things that make life meaningful.

PS. I've got my advanced directive next to me and I'm filling it out TODAY.

Aug 04, 2020

Gawande describes how the medical system has failed those in the final stages of life by using extreme measures to keep people alive regardless of the quality of the life they may be experiencing. He advocates an approach whereby those at the end of existence face their mortality, decide how best to spend the last stretch of time, seek comfort through hospice assistance and spend the remaining time with loved ones rather than in intubation in a sterile hospital. Where this more humane approach is practiced, people die more peacefully, families are less traumatized and the end of life costs to both families and the medical system are halved. This book should be required reading

Mar 27, 2020

My wife recommended this to me. From the title it sounded like another how-to book, a list of things to deal with regarding death and aging. How wrong my assumption!
It is a moving, narrative exploration of several issues surrounding death and aging in current American society. Each chapter looks at a different aspect but does so from the point of view of those affected by the topic, from elder care to end of life directives to hospice.
The epilogue is deeply personal and perfectly caps a very moving and informative book.

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ArapahoeMaryA Aug 01, 2019

We've created a multitrillion-dollar edifice for dispensing the medical equivalent of lottery tickets — and have only the rudiments of a system to prepare patients for the near certainty that those tickets will not win. Hope is not a plan.

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.

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?

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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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.

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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