A few weeks ago my good friend Birdie sent us Atul Gawande’s latest book, Being Mortal. It took us a while to read it but WOW. I think everyone should read it. Especially if you fall into one of these two categories:
- You have aging parents and are helping them navigate the years of their lives when their capacities are waning and living independently is getting more difficult (the first half of the book addresses our culture’s approach to care of the old)
- You or someone you are close to is dealing with a terminal illness and you are interested in learning more about how our medical culture approaches treatment options, information-sharing, and decision-making (especially for people with cancer). (The second half of the book addresses doctors’ beliefs that “I don’t have anything else to offer” but continued treatment beyond the point that it is effective, and explores what else there is to offer if we look beyond the usual boundaries of curative medicine.)
Here’s the New York Times review, which tells a bit more about the author’s journey through these issues. It’s a book powered more by stories than by studies–very readable, and full of insights that I found really important.