Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters by bestselling author and physician Atul Gawande is a perfect book for discussion groups, families, as well as individuals.
His book gets to the heart of the matter of aging and those whose lives are challenged by chronic, painful, highly debilitating, and incurable medical conditions where people only live due to extensive medical interventions.
His book honestly speaks to the fact that we are not the same society as pre-1960s.
The elderly are living longer and they don’t want to lose their freedoms nor do they want to live with their adult children. And, for the most part, adult children do not want to live with or have the financial or emotional resources or expertise themselves to provide physical care (often for up to 24 hours per day) for their aged parents.
Gawande's book highlights the often unneccessary and far-reaching negative emotional impacts and huge financial costs associated with working to prolong life, without an increase in quality of life and sometimes resulting in shortening of life, with extensive medical interventions.
It’s a topic most people would rather not discuss; a topic many actively shun.
Yet, this lack of discussion is a major obstacle for coming up with better, more loving options.
- So what can be done?
- How do we deal with our fear of dying, death, and chronic, painful, debilitating disease?
- Can recognizing the finitude of one’s time on Earth be a gift?
It takes courage, honesty, and the recognition that the quality of one’s life is just as important or even more important than the extension of it. And that most people have priorities beyond being safe and living longer—they want the chance to shape their life story and ensure it has meaning.
It takes having the difficult conversations—with compassion and openness.
Gawande suggests using the following questions to focus on the options that make the most sense in determining medical treatment for those challenged by chronic, debilitating, painful illnesses that would result in death without extensive medical intervention.
- What are your biggest fears or concerns?
- What goals are the most important to you?
- What trade-offs are you willing to make and which one are you not?
- What course of action best serves what you desire?
Interested in getting this conversation going or, at least, start thinking about it?
Click on the book cover to find out more.
Author and artist, Kathryn V. White's most recent book, Rumble Tumble Joy: A Journey for Healing, Inspiration, and Wholeness, is a finalist in the 2014 Wishing Shelf Book Awards. Find out more at: www.kathrynVwhite.com