Book Review – Being Mortal

Being Mortal book coverBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

It is an inevitable fact of life. We are all aging, even at this very moment and we will all eventually die, although hopefully after a good long life. Dr. Gawande manages to have an honest conversation about end-of-life and dying without the tone of morbidity. He argues that both society and medicine have the wrong view of aging. They focus on safety and treating the immediate problems without any regard for a person’s happiness which is just as important for maintaining health.

“The battle of being mortal is the battle to maintain the integrity of one’s life—to avoid becoming so diminished or dissipated or subjugated that who you are becomes disconnected from who you were or who you want to be. Sickness and old age make the struggle hard enough. The professionals and institutions we turn to should not make it worse. But we have at least entered an era in which an increasing number of them believe their job is not to confine people’s choices, in the name of safety, but to expand them, in the name of living a worthwhile life.”

I’m glad that this book has been on the bestseller lists because I think that the more people that read it, the better. Dr. Gawande has compassionately articulated some very important ideas that will only become more so as our population continues to age and medicine continues to innovate. I recommend this book for people of all ages and especially to those who might have to have hard conversations with loved ones in the near future.

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