At Senior Living Systems, our mission is aging well. In support of that mission, we love to share some of the books that we feel speak to a positive and dynamic approach to aging, and help support the concept of ageless living.
Today, we’d like to share with you Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. Atul Gawande is a surgeon and a writer. In this, his fourth book, he writes about the struggles and limitations of medicine as we age and our lives draws to a close. He then shares the work and ideas of Bill Thomas, a young doctor who had a radical idea in the early 1990’s: treat old people like people.
This book explores the idea that medicine and society often treat aging and death as one more clinical problem to address, which often causes suffering rather than bringing about healing. Gawande shares stories of the experiences his patients have had as they’ve aged – including medical problems from dementia to broken hips, loss of their independence, and even loneliness. He discusses the medicalization of aging and mortality – where our healthcare system spends billions of dollars on medical treatments that often make patients miserable and keep them isolated from family and home. Gawande even shares his own experiences as a physician – discussing how the inability of many physicians to confront the fact of death often prevents them from counseling patients wisely.
He explores the work and ideas of those who have challenged the medical status quo, including Bill Thomas and other geriatric and palliative care specialists, who are pioneering the idea that medicine should be about providing people with options for balancing their desire to live longer with their desire to live better. As medicine continues to evolve towards making end of life a more enriching and inclusive experience, and not the cold, one-size-fits-all process that it has been in the past, Being Mortal gives us a glimpse into what end-of-life care has been, and what it could be.