the next good book

Being Mortal

By Atul Gawande


263 pages

What’s it about? This book explores, from a physician’s viewpoint, how the medical field is influencing the way our lives end- in illness and in old age.
What did it make me think about? I cannot overstate how important I thought this book was.  It was such a fascinating look at the way we make decisions for the elderly and the very ill.  Dr. Atul Gawande steers us through this difficult terrain with wisdom and grace. Should I read it? I think this book was a must read for anyone who is dealing with aging or death.  Basically, that means everyone…I felt like this book radically changed my perspective.  It changed how I will frame the discussions I have with my family.  How often does a book do that? Quote- “The problem with medicine and the institutions it has spawned for the care of the sick and the old is not that they have had an incorrect view of what makes life significant.  The problem is that they have had almost no view at all.  Medicine’s focus is narrow.  Medical professionals concentrate on repair of health, not sustenance of the soul.  Yet- and this is the painful paradox- we have decided that they should be the ones who largely define how we live in our waning days.  For more than a half a century now, we have treated the trials of sickness, aging, and mortality as medical concerns.  It’s been an experiment in social engineering, putting our fates in the hands of people valued more for their technical prowess than for their understanding of human needs. That experiment has failed.  If safety and protection were all we sought in life, perhaps we could conclude differently.  But because we seek a life of worth and purpose, and yet are routinely denied the conditions that might make it possible, there is no other way to see what modern society has done.”

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