Being Mortal

Being Mortal

Medicine and What Matters in the End

Book Club Kit - 2017 | Book club edition
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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.
Publisher: New York ; Picador USA , [2017]
Edition: Book club edition
Copyright Date: © 2014
ISBN: 9781250076229
Branch Call Number: 362.175 G248B 2014
Characteristics: 15 books (287 pages ; 21 cm.) + 1 binder, in bin (27 x 42 x 28 cm.)
Additional Contributors: Gawande, Atul


From Library Staff

List - Life and All That
TacomaLibrary Apr 01, 2017

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.

From the critics

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ArapahoeMaryA Aug 01, 2019

Gawande presents a compelling case against the treatment-at-any-cost philosophy of medicine. In our quest to prolong life, we do not adequately address age-related frailty, and utterly fail to help patients mentally prepare for death.

May 23, 2019

Borrowed from Margo DeMoor. It was discussed at their joint book club meeting last year. Very well-written and right-on. He addressed end-of-life issues and the need for good quality of life rather than lengthened life, the move to change the face of care for the elderly. Shows how nursing homes have it all wrong.

Apr 25, 2019

If you are older then 50 and you have elderly parents this book is very good to start asking the necessary questions of those age groups. Very well written with not just a good amount of research behind it but a great intellect and heart.

SnoIsleLib_KimberlyL Nov 24, 2018

"Being Mortal" examines quality of life as the primary goal in managing end of life decisions and is an accessible look at many of the ways our current approach sacrifices that goal in order to extend life at all costs. This is a terrific read for book groups, as the issues raised are profound, universal and ultimately personal.

Oct 19, 2018

This book was a moving and informative assessment on the state of care in our hospitals and nursing homes. This is a must read for people of any age to better care for our families and ourselves and to advocate for change in the medical community.

Sep 27, 2018

This book will put you into a thoughtful, melancholy (let's face it - depressed) mood, but it is a necessary book that discusses important things that we all must consider. It addressed the role of the Medical community in cases where someone is near the end of their life. Large sections of the book focus on quality of life for seniors but it also addresses those that have terminal illness. It will give you a pit in your stomach and maybe even a tear to your eye but it sure will make you consider the quality of life you want for yourself or your loved ones and will allow you to see things from another angle.

Sep 23, 2018

Gawande has started a conversation most Americans actively try to avoid, but the real gift of this book is being able to continue the conversation with others. Gawande provides information, giving readers a behind the scenes look into the minds of medical practitioners and the medical system. He then shares case studies, examples from people be has met and worked with and how they've gone about these difficult conversations, before sharing from his own first hand experience. There is no formula for talking about death and what matters in the end, but it is important to talk about. Gawande is vulnerable and honest, inviting the reader into this intimate conversation. Everyone can benefit from this book, as it will help deepen relationships by getting through the difficult conversations. For most readers, myself included, this would be a book chosen due to circumstances, but I hope it becomes a staple for everyone.

Sep 19, 2018

Perhaps the topic of the book is of concern to many people. But to me it seemed that the author have limited to give examples from the lives of sick elderly patients that he met during his career , including members of his own family. He's asking rhetorical question over and over-what should be change in a medical approach to treat those who are dying. But he himself doesn't have an answer-how to do that.

Jul 08, 2018

Everyone should read this book. We need to open up the conversations about death and dying and this book is a great starting off point.

JCLCherylMY Jul 07, 2018

Difficult subject matter? Check.
Important and informative? Check.
An essential read for every mortal being? Check.

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ArapahoeMaryA Aug 01, 2019

We've created a multitrillion-dollar edifice for dispensing the medical equivalent of lottery tickets — and have only the rudiments of a system to prepare patients for the near certainty that those tickets will not win. Hope is not a plan.

Dec 01, 2016

Death, of course, is not a failure. Death is normal. Death may be the enemy, but it is also the natural order of things.

Apr 10, 2016

5 Key Questions at the end of Life:

1. What is your understanding of your current health or condition?
2. What are your fears or worries?
3. What are your goals and priorities?
4. Are there any tradeoffs you are willing to make?
5. What would a good day be like?

Jan 17, 2016

When I was a child, the lessons my father taught me had been about perseverance: never to accept limitations that stood in my way. As an adult watching him in his final years, I also saw how to come to terms with limits that couldn't simply be wished away. When to shift from pushing against limits to making the best of them is not often readily apparent. But it is clear that there are times when the cost of pushing exceeds its value. pg 262

Jan 17, 2016

In the end, people don't view their life as merely the average of all its moments -- which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people's minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life may be empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. pg 238

Jan 17, 2016

...Courage is strength in the face of knowledge of what is to be feared or hoped. Wisdom is prudent strength. pg 232

Jan 17, 2016

The choices don't stop, however. Life is choices, and they are relentless. No sooner have you made one choice than another is upon you. pg 215

Jan 17, 2016

Even our brains shrink: at the age of thirty, the brain is a three-pound organ that barely fits inside the skull; by our seventies, gray-matter loss leaves almost an inch of spare room. That's why elderly people like my grandfather are so much more prone to cerebral bleeding after a blow to the head -- the brain actually rattles around inside. pg 31

PimaLib_ElizabethT Aug 12, 2015

People die only once. They have no experience to draw on. They need doctors and nurses who are willing to have hard discussions and say what they have seen, who will help people prepare for what is to come--and escape a warehoused oblivion that few really want.

Nov 06, 2014

Consider the fact that we care deeply about what happens to the world after we die.If self interest were the primary source of meaning in life, then it wouldn't matter to people if an hour after their death everyone they know were to be wiped from the face of the earth. Yet it matters greatly to most people. We feel that such and occurrence would make life meaningless. pg 126

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Dec 01, 2016

In 1945, most Americans died at home. By the 1980s that number was down to 17%. Today it is trending back upwards as more people pursue options that allow them to live out their final days in the comfort of their own homes. Doctor and writer Atul Gawande explores how dying became medicalized in the intervening years, as science offered new innovations for beating back disease in the 20th century. Encompassing both the elderly and the terminally ill, Gawande examines how end of life care falls short of providing patients with the best possible quality of life in their final days, instead focusing on what else can be tried to fix the unfixable, and beat back the inevitable. From nursing homes to cancer wards to assisted living facilities to hospice care, Gawande reveals the shortcomings of the institutions we have created for the dying, and asks how we can be better prepared to face the question of mortality with clear eyes and compassion.

Nov 06, 2014

While rather horrific to read there was a lot of valuable information. As you age, or if you get a disastrous disease, your body and mind are eroding to varying degrees. Our medical industry is only designed with prolong life not to ensure quality of life (and this comes from a doctor within the system). You get to decide what treatment you want and don't want (and should base that on the outcomes you want and are realistic - not what the doctor tells you have to do). Ask questions and face the reality of your situation. Some times there is no good outcome. If things are grim don't be hesitant to start Hospice care (it can manage the time you have left ). There are basically 3 types of doctors. Doctor Knows Best will just say here is what is wrong with you and here is how we will treat it. Doctor informative will say here is what is wrong with you and here are 10 options to treat it. The 3rd (and most rare) are the interpretive doctors. They tell you what is wrong with you and then ask what your goals are for you life, and then help you find a plan to meet them. As you age you should know what you want out of life and what is an acceptable life and what is not. Communicate your wishes clearly so that your loved ones are not left guessing as to what to do (this is a heavy burden to put on them). Have the hard conversations early even though it is hard. Nursing homes and assisted living are mostly designed for the children of aging parents (see the first quote I added). While a lot of aged care facilities are like prisons, there are exceptions (though rare). Dr. Gawande asserts that people need a reason to live and some degree of control over their lives. and will have better lives if they feel they do. It can be as simple as a house plant to care for or deciding if they want to eat something that may be bad for them.


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