Review: Being Mortal

Being Mortal

Being Mortal
By Atul Gawande
Picador USA, 9781250076229, September 2017, 304pp.

The Short of It:

Well written and thought-provoking. If you’ve never thought about losing your independence while battling a long-term/terminal illness, then this will be an eye-opener for you.

The Rest of It:

Atul Gawande was born into a family of doctors. As a doctor and  himself, he became interested in palliative care and how a shift in the care of the terminally ill, can prolong their quality of life. Not cure them, of course, but provide them care by fulfilling such wishes as more time with the family, continuing to teach music, eating ice cream and watching football in the comfort of your own home.

When his own father is diagnosed with cancer, his research in this area becomes personal. How do you treat a patient in this situation? How do you secure a comfortable environment while controlling pain, seeing to their psychological needs and their desire to maintain quality of life?

This was a fascinating read. Gawande discusses the issues with nursing homes and hospice care and points out two very important questions that should be asked of any patient with a terminal illness.

  1. What is your understanding of what you’ve been told?
  2. What is your expectation as far as care?

So often, these critical questions are never asked. It’s assumed that people want to be cured but often, they just want to be pain-free, comfortable and independent. That last part being a huge issue for most. This is a heavy topic but Gawande does a beautiful job highlighting what CAN be done for a positive outcome.

If this topic interests you, get yourself a copy and if you have a chance. Check out his Ted Talk too.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

13 thoughts on “Review: Being Mortal”

  1. I’ve seen this one around and heard nothing but great things about it. I just didn’t really know what it was about. Sounds like an interesting read about an important topic.

  2. This is one of my top books ever. Gawande says in it that doctors are taught to cure disease – mostly by any means necessary – and they assume that is what patients and their families want. They are not trained much on ‘letting go’ and ‘living life as YOU choose’. As someone who has dealt with these decisions and choices with both my parents, I think every person should read this. So many things to think about. And talk with your family. You’ll be glad you did. Off my soapbox now. LOL

  3. This book has stuck with me for over a year. I find myself thinking about it and referring to it as friends and family and acquaintances are diagnosed with terminal illnesses or near the end of life. Why do we want to prolong life if it isn’t well-lived? Such an interesting book.

    1. ​It’s a tough subject because often the people making the decisions, family, etc., aren’t ready to give up yet. ​

  4. Nicely reviewed. I like how the author highlights helping the terminally ill with their quality of life, where many doctors or others would just move on & the people would be forgotten. This book seems to have done a lot in this area.

    1. It’s a simple concept but to this day, doctors are trained to treat and cure the illness. They are a wealth of information but sometimes, all the patient wants is to sit with their family, at the table, for dinner. Most of the patients in this book know they are dying and don’t expect to be cured.

  5. I’m going to have to read this one sooner rather than later, I feel. I am so glad though that people are addressing this issue these days. I feel anything having to do with death and dying was swept under the rug for so long.

    1. This is one of those books that you can read now, to help you deal with the later. You know? Especially if you have aging parents. It’s a book for everyone, the patience, the doctor and the family.

  6. This book is so important. I read it ages after my own grandparents had failed to make these preparations, and it was just another reminder that I need to have these conversations with my own parents and think about these issues my own self.

    1. As you may recall, I lost my mom about a year and a half ago to a stroke. Sudden. Not expected. My father suffered the same fate a year prior to her passing but was not on life support. You’d think that seeing someone on life support and knowing that there is nothing that can be done would make the decisions easier, but I was so wrong.

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