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Being mortal : medicine and what matters in the end
2014
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Summary

In Being Mortal , bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.

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.

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Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Distressed by how the waning days of our lives are given over to treatments that addle our brains and sap our bodies for a sliver's chance of benefit, surgeon Gawande (The Checklist Manifesto, 2010) confronts the contemporary experience of aging and dying. Culture and modern medicine encourage an end-of-life approach that focuses on safety and protection but is sadly shallow. He frets that residents of nursing homes are often lonely and bored. Physicians are keen on intervening whenever a body is diseased or broken. Yet this medical imperative applied to terminally ill individuals can be frustrating, expensive, and even disastrous. Gawande suggests that what most of us really want when we are elderly and incapable of taking care of ourselves are simple pleasures and the autonomy to script the final chapter of life. Making his case with stories about people who are extremely frail, very old, or dying, he explores some options available when decrepitude sets in or death approaches: palliative care, an assisted living facility, hospice, an elderly housing community, and family caregivers. One of these stories is the impassioned account of his father's deterioration and death from a tumor of the spinal cord. As a writer and a doctor, Gawande appreciates the value of a good ending.--Miksanek, Tony Copyright 2014 Booklist
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Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
1The Independent Selfp. 11
2Things Fall Apartp. 25
3Dependencep. 55
4Assistancep. 79
5A Better Lifep. 111
6Letting Gop. 149
7Hard Conversationsp. 191
8Couragep. 231
Epiloguep. 259
Notes on Sourcesp. 265
Acknowledgmentsp. 279
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