Being Mortal; Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Being Mortal Medicine and What Matters in the EndBeing Mortal; Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2014. 282 pages; $26.00 (hardback). Reading level: adult.

Being Mortal is based on some unwelcome truths: That we are mortal, that many of us will transition from independence to dependence as we age, and that we will all eventually die. The first five chapters concern living with dignity during the slide into dependence; the final three focus on dying with grace. Along the way Gawande (a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a respected medical writer) explains why our hospitals and nursing homes were created to “address any number of societal goals – from freeing up hospital beds to taking burdens off families’ hands to coping with poverty among the elderly” but not on “how to make life worth living when we’re weak and frail and can’t fend for ourselves anymore.” He humbly admits that physicians (including himself) who treat elderly patients by trying to cure one ailment at a time often increase their discomfort and shorten their lives. Better to manage their care by simply asking what is important to them and by making sure they truly understand their prognosis. While thoroughly researched and documented, anecdotes – heroic to heartbreaking, including the decline and death of Gawande’s own father – make for a warm, rather than a clinical, read. This honest, elegant, insightful book should be read by anyone who is a day older today than yesterday.

Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge, Author

Connie Nordhielm WooldridgeBiography | View

Speaker / Presenter

Connie is an experienced speaker and presenter who enjoys sharing her passion for writing and her experience as a writer with readers and writers of all ages. She has presented to students, community, civic and professional organizations, writing groups, library audiences, and seniors – wherever book lovers gather!
>> More Information About Connie Speaking and Presenting