In his bestselling books, Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, has fearlessly revealed the struggles of his profession. Now in Being Mortal: Aging, Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End he examines its ultimate limitations and failures – in his own practices as well as others’ – as life draws to a close. And he discovers how we can do better. He follows a hospice nurse on her rounds, a geriatrician in his clinic, and reformers turning nursing homes upside down. He finds people who show us how to have the hard conversations and how to ensure we never sacrifice what people really care about.
Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering that modern medicine has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients’ anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them. And families go along with all of it.
Riveting, honest, and humane, Being Mortal: Aging, Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End shows that the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life – all the way to the very end.
Being Mortal: Aging, Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End is available as a book and a CD-audio.