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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jeffrey on 10-13-14
Yes, this book should be required reading for any medical professional of any kind who may ever have to help any patient make good decisions for themselves and their families against terminal or very debilitating illness. It should otherwise be read by well, anyone. We are all going to die. We either need to know what expectations to give those around us for those end times, either family or medical professionals or we need to know how best to guide our loved ones through the process of the end of their lives, because it will happen for all of us. Past that, this is a remarkably entertaining read. Oh, the parts about the history of nursing homes and assisted living made me yawn, but the rest had me spell bound. Dr. Gawnde's accounting of his own father's illness and death left me awash in emotion and even tears. The narration was perfect.
29 of 29 people found this review helpful
By George on 11-02-14
A Walk through the Valley of the Shadow
A masterpiece of medical journalism. It is not an easy listen. Parts are unbearably sad. Contemplation of one's mortality in preparation for the inevitable, is something that most of us would just as soon put off thinking about until close to the end. This book is most recommended for those confronting life threatening illness, and for those with loved ones or family members doing so. It is also for those interested in first rate writing regardless of topic. This is that rare work that addresses life's most painful subjects with utmost lucidity, objectivity and sensitivity. It is a book that you come away from feeling as though you are, for reading it, better prepared to cope with the approaching end of life. It makes you feel as though you are better equipped to support loved ones. It is a masterful critique of contemporary medical practice and its approach to aging and dying. It offers a new vision of what medicine can and should offer the aged and the terminally ill. The patient narratives are gripping and yet painful to read and to contemplate. What would you do in similar circumstances? The narration is also first class.
46 of 47 people found this review helpful