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Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (edition 2017)

by Atul Gawande (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,4261773,655 (4.45)444
Member:BookBuddies
Title:Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
Authors:Atul Gawande (Author)
Info:Picador (2017), Edition: Reprint, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:2017 09/26

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Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

  1. 00
    Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality by Pauline W. Chen (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Written by experienced and dedicated physicians, these compelling books question American health care's emphasis on management and technique to the detriment of human relationships between doctors and patients, especially when the patient's mortality is an important consideration.… (more)
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» See also 444 mentions

English (184)  Italian (1)  All languages (185)
Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
This book is a great help. If someone is having a family member that is sick it allows you to understand more the importance of the quality of life and the dignity of the person in it's last months, it also help you to learn how to let go. I really like it the way is written the use of multiple stories to make us see what really matters at the end.
The only think that I do not like that much is that is focus in US (The author is from US so I guess I can't ask for less) but it alw us to learn in a beautiful way that sometimes we have to take choises that does not seem so easy but they can work for the best. ( )
  CaroPi | Aug 9, 2018 |
This book seemed to be basically a plea for more doctors to be better trained in gerontology and participate in managing the health & well-being of old people. It's certainly valuable to point out that the objectives of managing the health of a 90 year old are not the same as the objectives of managing a 30 year old's health. Medical heroism and high tech solutions are not usually required. However, the reality is that resources are not going to come in sufficient quantity to rescue the quality of life of most old people. Unless we die suddenly we're destined to spend our final years in miserable nursing homes. I decided not to finish reading this as It was too depressing to read about my future as an aged and disabled person. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to be one of those who die suddenly while doing whatever it is they enjoy most (reading a book?) ( )
  oldblack | Jul 26, 2018 |
Should be required reading for everyone-tough to read at times, but well done. ( )
  melanieklo | Jul 25, 2018 |
Being Mortal is about the limitations of what modern medicine can provide for people as their lives draw to a close. Gawande argues that the objective of medicine should not merely be treatment and survival; medical care should also ensure dignity in death and having control over one's final moments. He argues that instead of aggressively fighting the inescapable realities of aging, we should ask the hard questions of ourselves and our loved ones -- What makes life worth living? When should we try to extend our lives, and when should we choose a better quality of our remaining days over extending their quantity?

Being Mortal is not the kind of book that I would have picked out to read on my own, so I wasn't too excited when I received a copy as part of Book Riot's quarterly book box. I finally picked it up after letting it sit on my coffee table for about a month, and when I next put the book down I realized I'd read 150 pages and hours had passed. Though I zipped through it, this book is difficult to read. Not because of the way Gawande writes -- his style is highly engaging, and he never lapses into excessively scientific jargon or overly simplistic explanations -- but because of the tough subject matter. Gawande draws on his own experiences as a doctor and peppers his book with honest and humane stories of his patients, friends, and family; the stories he tells make the book more accessible, and also more heartbreaking. (And that's not a bad thing.)

No one likes to think about their loved ones', or their own, impending mortality. But it's important to have these hard conversations, because as Gawande says, "endings matter." ( )
  captainmander | Jul 19, 2018 |
The book is very well written. It is touching with the message delivered using very interesting stories from the author's experience. Basically the book is about medicine as a means of well-being and not simply keeping people alive. It covers care of those who are aging and meeting their needs for a life worth living and not merely a place of safety. There is much on the improvements coming to assisted living and nursing homes. It covers treating life-threatening diseases and the question of how far to go in this endeavor; what is it that a person is willing to go through and what is it that they need for life to have meaning in their condition. How does a doctor fit into the process of deciding what should be done? There are not easy, pat answers in the book, but it does give much food for thought about difficult questions and it does it in a gentle yet reality-based way. ( )
1 vote ajlewis2 | Jul 11, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
His new book, “Being Mortal,” is a personal meditation on how we can better live with age-related frailty, serious illness and approaching death.

It is also a call for a change in the philosophy of health care. Gawande writes that members of the medical profession, himself included, have been wrong about what their job is. Rather than ensuring health and survival, it is “to enable well-being.”
added by melmore | editNew York Times, Sheri Fink (Nov 6, 2014)
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atul Gawandeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Petkoff, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pradera, AlejandroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I see it now—this world is swiftly passing.
—the warrior Karna, in the Mahabharata

They come to rest at any kerb:
All streets in time are visited.
—Philip Larkin, "Ambulances"
Dedication
To Sara Bershtel
First words
I learned about a lot of things in medical school, but mortality wasn't one of them.
Quotations
Modern scientific capability has profoundly altered the course of human life. People live longer and better than at any other time in history. But scientific advances have turned the processes of aging and dying into medical experiences, matters to be managed by health care professionals. And we in the medical profession have proved alarmingly unprepared for it.
In other words, our decision making in medicine has failed so spectacularly that we have reached the point of actively inflicting harm on patients rather than confronting the subject of mortality. If end-of-life discussions were an experimental drug, the FDA would approve it.
The simple view is that medicine exists to fight death and disease, and that is, of course, its most basic task. Death is the enemy. But the enemy has superior forces. Eventually, it wins. And in a war that you cannot win, you don't want a general who fights to the point of total annihilation. You don't want Custer. You want Robert E. Lee, someone who knows how to fight for territory that can be won and how to surrender it when it can't, someone who understands that the damage is greatest if all you do is battle to the bitter end.
… our driving motivations in life, instead of remaining constant, change hugely over time and in ways that don’t quite fit Maslow’s classic hierarchy. In young adulthood, people seek a life of growth and self-fulfillment, just as Maslow suggested. Growing up involves opening outward. We search out new experiences, wider social connections, and ways of putting our stamp on the world. When people reach the latter part of adulthood, however, their priorities change markedly. Most reduce the amount of time they spend pursuing achievement and social networks. They narrow in. Given the choice, young people prefer meeting new people to spending time with, say, a sibling; old people prefer the opposite. Studies find that as people grow older they interact with fewer people and concentrate more on spending time with family and established friends. They focus on being rather than doing and on the present more than the future.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805095152, Hardcover)

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 ending

Medicine 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:46 -0400)

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families of the terminally ill.

(summary from another edition)

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