Author Topic: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande  (Read 2973 times)

CU Tiger

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Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« on: May 30, 2016, 09:03:01 PM »
Reading this book about aging, the changes that come with it, and caring for the elderly. Lots to think about and ponder on.
There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. - G.K. Chesterton

Dicey

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2016, 09:10:49 PM »
Loved it!
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Secretly Saving

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2016, 09:17:03 PM »
I have it here and haven't been able to get into it.  Probably because I'm scared.  I have a parent with Stage 4 cancer that I don't want to lose. 

So, for those of you who have read it.  Will reading it help me or is it too close for comfort right now?

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2016, 04:23:48 AM »
Secretly Saving, Sorry to hear about your parent. That is an incredibly tough situation.

The premise put forward is that hospitals and family members should focus more on enabling quality of life before death than preventing or delaying death. It also speaks about the benefits of older people staying active and having responsibilities (not sure if this is relevant to your parent's level of health).

This book may help you and your parent, but it will be a tough and painful process to accept that there will be (at some point) a stage where death is inevitable and a time may come where death is preferable to a life of suffering.

There are also lots of smaller tips that are useful for keeping people independent (such as maintaining good foot health to prevent falls).

NinetyFour

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2016, 04:48:06 AM »
I read it shortly after losing a very close friend (she was 92 and in a nursing home).  I cried a lot as I read the first third of the book.  But the book then shifted and several more pleasant and hopefully models of elderly care were presented.

In the end, I loved the book and want to read it again.  So many difficult but important issues are raised.
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Secretly Saving

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2016, 07:49:18 AM »
Thanks for the information.  I should probably steel myself and read it.

CU Tiger

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2016, 06:08:27 AM »
I have it here and haven't been able to get into it.  Probably because I'm scared.  I have a parent with Stage 4 cancer that I don't want to lose. 

So, for those of you who have read it.  Will reading it help me or is it too close for comfort right now?

I think the questions about quality of life would be helpful.

Yeah, the book can be scary. I find myself thinking that I do not want to face sad choices for my parents or myself. But realistically, we are all going to die. I am a planner and like to do what I can to forearm myself with knowledge.

I am finding the book helpful.
There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. - G.K. Chesterton

Dicey

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2016, 07:44:33 AM »
I read the book when it was new. I mentioned it to one of my parent's friends. She told me that her doctor was profiled in the book. (The doctor who follows his failing wife into assisted living.)

Since then, I have lost both of my parents. I am infinitely glad I read the book. I will also mention that I'm a cancer survivor, so I had a good handle on the life is precious perspective. My mom was Director of Nurses at a great convalescent hospital for twenty-five years, so the aging process was familiar to us all. Reading the book gave me an extra measure of resilience and understanding during a difficult time, for which I am eternally grateful.
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juggleandhope

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2016, 06:24:20 AM »
Loved this book, taught a high school class based partly on excerpts from it.  Students loved it too.

acorn

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2016, 07:37:06 AM »
I loved the book. I think we don't think/talk enough about death and end of life issues until they come up, but by then it is probably too late. The book gave me some perspective and got me started on thinking about these issues. It is clearly better to be informed and prepared for what-ifs than to be caught off guard.

I also watched Still Alice and read about an elderly couple's suicide pact at about the same time, which gave me a lot of food for thought.

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2016, 09:04:20 AM »
Thanks for the information.  I should probably steel myself and read it.

My mom is in hospice now with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.  I read the book a month or two ago; overall I would say it was helpful and not depressing to read - I figure learning about death is better, just like learning more about anything helps you handle it better.

I'm now reading "How We Die".  The one thing I will suggest to both of us is that we give ourselves permission to take a break or stop reading if things get too overwhelming.

My condolences to you.
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Lookilu

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2016, 12:51:33 PM »
I read this last year when my mother was in hospice for basically being 91 and in decline.
It's a great book. It not only helped me when dealing with Mom's issues and making decisions on her behalf, but helped me to think more clearly about what I want for myself and for DH as we get older.
I think it may be time to reread this one.

stoaX

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2016, 02:38:42 PM »
I think I've read every book Atul has written  - they're all worth reading.  This one is gets you thinking about some tough subjects...I highly recommend it. 

MATSG

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2016, 04:43:48 PM »
I read this book at the end of last year.   My parents are currently in good health, but as we all are, they're getting older and the time could come when some of these decisions will need to be made.  My mother is a nurse, so talking to her about the book was an easier conversation than when I tried having it with my dad, who doesn't like to think about such matters.  I found most memorable the part where Atul talks about speaking with his father about what he would want to happen should complications arise during his surgery.   When something like that happens and you're not really deciding on life or death but on quality of life going forward, knowing ahead of time the wishes of those closest to me would make any decisions that much easier to make. 

Secretly Saving

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2016, 11:11:27 AM »
Thought I'd come back and update.  Started the book and I'm glad that I did.   I'm about 100 pages in.  Interestingly I can relate to it on multiple levels - my own sense of mortality, understanding what my dying parent is going through, and understanding about the historical changes (teacher here) that have affected how we view aging and death.  Sitting here at the airport, heading to my parent's home now armed with a list of thoughts about how to make this end of life experience as good as possible.  I'm certain that I'll be back to post again as I get further along in the book!

NinetyFour

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2016, 12:18:45 PM »
Thanks for the update.  Glad you are getting some good info from the book.  I need to re-read it.

Good luck with the visit.
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lhamo

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2016, 04:54:00 PM »
Glad you started reading it.  I bought/read it last summer when  my mom was in the middle of a health crisis (eventually confirmed to be caused by a failed valve replacement, leading to congestive heart failure).  My sister also read it at that time.  We both cried a lot, but it helped us navigate important parts of the journey, including calling in palliative care for a consult during one of my mom's hospitalizations, getting her to sign a POLST, and setting up a visit with hospice after she went home.  Her condition has stabilized since last fall, and she isn't eligible for hospice yet, but we know who to call when she is ready.  And we were also able to have frank discussions with her about her wishes for end of life care. 

Hard stuff, but it does really help to have books like this to reflect on as you are going through it.

Hope you have good conversations with your parents during your visit.
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Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2016, 07:12:38 AM »
Hope the visit goes well SS

CU Tiger

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2016, 08:59:14 PM »
Now that a few weeks have gone by, I am going to re-read and take some notes, to help me decide how to ask my parents some of the questions the doctor suggests.
There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. - G.K. Chesterton

pbkmaine

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2016, 09:07:00 PM »
I loved this book.

RunningWithScissors

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2016, 10:23:21 AM »
Great book.

It brought to light many challenges that those of us with parents in care are facing and how 'medicalized' the aging process has become.

Secretly Saving

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2016, 09:53:38 AM »
Now that a few weeks have gone by, I am going to re-read and take some notes, to help me decide how to ask my parents some of the questions the doctor suggests.

This is me.  I'm rereading it again.  I'm hoping I got the emotions surrounding my upcoming loss under control so that I can read it with a new set of eyes to learn more.

joninnyc

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2016, 07:54:23 PM »
This was such an important book for me - it forced me to have the tough conversations with my Mom and Dad that I never did and was avoiding. I had them and feel much better now, because I know what they want. It's a hard conversation to have but not having it will end up making things worse in the end. I recommend it to everybody.

Kitsune

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2016, 01:01:31 PM »
If you only read one thing by Gawande, read this, seriously. It is really helping me navigate my parents getting older.

But his other books are super readable and interesting. Especially (and this sounds ridiculous) the one about checklists.

stoaX

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2016, 02:01:20 PM »
If you only read one thing by Gawande, read this, seriously. It is really helping me navigate my parents getting older.

But his other books are super readable and interesting. Especially (and this sounds ridiculous) the one about checklists.

After reading The Checklist Manifesto by Atul I started incorporating some of it into my work and personal life.  So I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendation of that book.

CU Tiger

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #25 on: August 24, 2016, 06:45:11 PM »
I have a parent who is showing the first signs of some sort of memory problems. This article, shared by a friend, was,helpful:

http://articles.philly.com/2016-01-31/news/70225735_1_dementia-brain-damage-caregivers

There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. - G.K. Chesterton

Kitsune

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2016, 07:10:58 PM »
I have a parent who is showing the first signs of some sort of memory problems. This article, shared by a friend, was,helpful:

http://articles.philly.com/2016-01-31/news/70225735_1_dementia-brain-damage-caregivers

Feel free to disregard, but if its first sign of memory issues, investigate clinical research sites near you who have clinical trials for Alzheimer's. Soon.

I work in medical research. Right now, there is no treatment for Alzheimer's, though some current trials are showing really nice results for our patients. The problem is that people can only join trials in the very early stages of the disease, and by the time they decide that it's horrible enough to get help, they're too advanced and there's nothing to be done. It's heartbreaking. (We can refer to community and caregiver support, at that point, but there's no actual treatment that'll help the patient). So... If that's something anyone would consider, just a PSA: look into it EARLY.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2016, 10:53:35 PM »
How weird.  I just started reading this book last night after an MMM user recommended it in some other thread.  Now I was just trying to search for that thread again to thank them and in that process stumbled upon this whole collection of you all recommending it!  Thanks, all!  I'll report back later.

Landlady

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #28 on: September 01, 2016, 12:29:43 PM »
I read this book, then my dad read it over the winter last year. Now he has cancer and while we have high hopes of his cancer going into long term remission the book has helped us be realistic on preparing for the worst case scenario so my mom is not left clueless about finances and his wishes. It certainly helps that my dad has an engineers mind and is very realistic yet does get depressed sometimes. Ef Cancer.

Secretly Saving

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #29 on: September 01, 2016, 07:21:53 PM »
Ef cancer, for sure.  So sorry, Landlady, that you're now dealing with a parent's illness. 

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #30 on: December 19, 2016, 11:32:08 AM »
If you only read one thing by Gawande, read this, seriously. It is really helping me navigate my parents getting older.

But his other books are super readable and interesting. Especially (and this sounds ridiculous) the one about checklists.

+1 to both books.  And I agree that the checkbook one does sound ridiculous but was excellent.
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Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #31 on: December 23, 2016, 09:22:24 AM »
If you only read one thing by Gawande, read this, seriously. It is really helping me navigate my parents getting older.

But his other books are super readable and interesting. Especially (and this sounds ridiculous) the one about checklists.

+1 to both books.  And I agree that the checkbook one does sound ridiculous but was excellent.

I really enjoyed the checklist manifesto.

step-in-time

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Re: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
« Reply #32 on: December 23, 2016, 11:31:04 AM »
I also enjoyed both books, glad to have found them!

Being Mortal especially, for the practical tips on handling serious health issues, finding a compatible doctor who understands interpretative medicine (instead of the more common "treat at all costs" mentality), and the end of life decisions that we will all face.

It was tough to get through at times, but very insightful.