Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (2014)

This book is so crucial to our heathcare debate, everyone in our country should read it.  Its premise91E6exaOufL is just as it’s titled: we are all mortal.  That means we are all going to die.  But no one wants to talk about that–including doctors.  Gawande makes an argument that death is the very subject we should be talking about because there is so much at stake morally, emotionally, and financially.  My book club read this, and since most of us are in our 50’s, we’re all dealing with or have dealt with aging, disease, and/or death of our own parents or other family members. Many of us feel this book would make (or would have made) the process easier and better. In lieu reviewing the book myself, I’m going to repost my sister’s review because she is spot on with everything I would say.

“I think this is an important book. The author, a physician, takes a hard look at how our society handles old age and end of life medical issues. His basic premise is that our medical system is geared to treat sickness without regard to the quality of life that might result from it. He goes thru many case studies of people who end up in old age homes, where interventions and structures are designed to maximize safety but have the effect of minimizing quality of life. He gives some lovely examples of nursing homes that have taken innovative steps to change this dynamic; alas, they are few and far between. He also discusses end of life illnesses, and the benefit that hospice can be over further medical intervention, if only the doctors could see it and actually talk to patients and their families about it. But hospice is just not what they are trained to do; rather, it’s more medical intervention. This is not an easy book to read content-wise because it brings up difficult issues that we are all bound to face. But having dealt with a family death myself, and with an aging parent/in law, these are very timely issues and I feel fortunate to have read this book. It is very well written and actually is an easy read if you are open to its content.” (Nonfiction)–review by Laurie McMahon

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