- Publisher: Picador; International Edition edition (2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250081246
- ISBN-13: 978-1250081247
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.9 x 5.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7,168 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Being Mortal Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End Paperback – 2015
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
7,168 customer reviews
Review this product
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-2 of 7,168 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
There is a tendency to treat old people like children which I realize now is usually very wrong. My dad is a diabetic and we (my siblings and I) have told him over and over that his diet of sugary cereal or cinnamon rolls and orange juice for breakfast and light store brand fruit yogurt with grapes and three cookies for lunch is not what he should be eating. He acts surprised every time we mention this, but doesn't change a thing because I now understand that he wants the independence of eating as he pleases. He has lost so much--can barely hear or see or walk, that he needs these very small pleasures to continue. I imagine he doesn't see the point in giving up anything else because he has so little left. My mother's memory is going and she has COPD, but somehow has lots of get up and go. She does a lot for my dad even though I suspect she is the sicker one. Being Mortal is making me think about the best way to help my parents which will probably start with asking them what they want.
One thing that surprised me completely was Dr. Gawande's statement that genetics is only a small part of reaching old age. Here I've been thinking that because my parents have lived so long that reaching old age is probably a no brainer for me. I have to think about that possiblity some more--a lot more.
This book has some touching stories about very sick people and how their lives ended. Unfortunately for many sick people the medical community is driven to act, but not necessarily to do what is best for the individual. It seems to me that they've forgotten "the do no harm" part of being a doctor. It seems to me it does harm people to ruin the time sick people have left.
A very through provoking book that will ultimately make me think about what I want when the end is near. I wish everyone would read it; especially medical people.
Dr. Gawande's book focuses both on medical procedures and living conditions in later life. He addresses the reality that as people near the end of life, decisions about their living situation are primarily aimed at ensuring safety at the expense of retaining autonomy, especially when adult children are making the decisions. "We want autonomy for ourselves and safety for those we love," a friend tells the author. We mistakenly treat elders as children, Dr. Gawande says, when we deny them the right to make choices, even bad choices. People of any age want the right to lock their doors, set the temperature they want, dress how they like, eat what they want, admit visitors only when they're in the mood. Yet, nursing homes (and even assisted living communities) are geared toward making these decisions for people in order to keep them safe, gain government funds, and ensure a routine for the facility.
In addition, Dr. Gawande shows how end-of-life physical conditions are most often treated as medical crises needing to be "fixed," instead of managed for quality of life when treatment has become futile. Life is more than just a stretch of years; it must have meaning and purpose to be worth living, he says. This is a familiar concept (in fact, I read parts of this book in The New Yorker), but he builds a strong case for reform through case studies, stories from his own life, and examples of how individuals are either becoming victims of, or bucking, the system. He addresses assisted suicide only briefly, but he mentions it in relation to end-of-life care. "Assisted living is far harder than assisted death, but its possibilities are far greater as well," he writes.
The good news is that some people are doing what they can to improve the well-being of elders nearing the end of their lives. He demonstrates the beauty of hospice care in the home. He tells a great story of a doctor who convinced a nursing home to bring in two dogs, four cats and one hundred birds! It was a risky proposal, but the rewards were phenomenal. It made the place, and the people, come alive. I am aware, though, that these movements rely on individuals, and only if enough people have a vision for change will it come about. For that reason, I hope this book makes a big splash!