Being Mortal by Atul Gawande | Book Review

Hi everyone. I’m Rincey and this is Rincey
Reads. Today I’m going to be talking about Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. The subtitle
to this book is medicine and what matters in the end. This is a non-fiction book that
talks about healthcare and the way that we treat people who are getting towards the end
of their life, whether it be they’re getting older and so they’re going to be passing away
soon or if they’re getting sicker and so they’re going to be passing away soon. And it’s about
the difficulties that we have as people confronting the fact that we’re going to die. Especially
as we get older and we see people around us starting to get sicker, we don’t necessarily
always know how to confront those things. Um. A lot of times in the healthcare industry
especially, we try to deal with just cures, we want to cure whatever sickness or ailment
we’re dealing with, which is obviously a noble thing. But at a certain point in time, you
can’t cure anymore and it’s just about what’s important when you can’t cure. Is it about
people’s comfort, people’s safety, people’s happiness, things like that. These are all
different factors that kind of conflict. It seems like they wouldn’t conflict but when
you think about the things that keep people safe and the things that keep people happy,
they’re not always the same thing. And Atul Gawande does a really, really fantastic job
of exploring those ideas and exploring those facets. He is a doctor himself, his parents
are doctors and he talks to a lot of different doctors and specialists around the country
as well as patients to try to understand better what people want out of life, what’s most
important to their healthcare. How the idea of healthcare is also changing and evolving
to be more than just curing but also about being more, I don’t want to say holistic but
being about the whole person. How it’s about, again, more than just curing the disease.
I loved this book. This book was one that I didn’t know exactly what to expect out of
it. Like I knew it was very good and I knew it dealt with the end of life, but I was still
very surprised at how good this book is. Atul Gawande does such a great job of breaking
down the ideas into a very understandable way so that even if you don’t work in the
industry, you can still very much access the things that he’s talking about. We all have
experiences with people getting older, people getting sick, things like that. So he sort
of confronts that head on. He has a lot of personal examples that he uses in this book
that allow the reader to see that he not only has the knowledge behind what he’s talking
about being a doctor, but he also has the experience to know what he’s talking about.
The thing with people getting older, the thing with death is that mentally you may have an
idea of what it’s going to be like but you really don’t know what it’s like until you’re
in the experience and you’re forced to sort of confront those difficult questions and
those difficult situations. I mentioned this once on a Goodreads status and I think I mentioned
this in my Friday Reads where I talked about this book, but this book made me cry multiple
times. Like I’m pretty sure at least once a chapter I was crying over this book. This
was a book that I had to read very slowly. It could be a potentially quick read. Like
it’s very readable and I was flying through the chapters, but after every chapter I had
to take a break because it would make my heart a little bit heavy. Because I have sort of
personal experience dealing with this, my dad was sick for quite some time and then
he eventually passed away, and so the things that he was talking about in this book hit
really, really close to home. He hit a lot of points that I had to deal with personally
and so I was like crying every chapter just thinking about the things that I had to deal
with. I can say for fact that, at least for me personally, this book is very, very accurate
in terms of the questions that you’re forced to face. You start to wonder whether or not
you’re making the right decisions in terms of someone’s health and well-being. I think
well-being is a very broad term and it’s also a term that’s very unique to each person.
What’s important to some people is not important to other people is not important to other
people. I think this is one of those books that should be required reading for people.
Because no matter where you are in life, if you are living in this world, there’s going
to be a point where you are going to confront death. I remember seeing one time a friend
mentioned something about how no one really warns you when you get into your 20s that
the most difficult thing about being older is that you see your parents getting older.
And it was one of those things that always stuck in my brain because I was like, yeah
it’s true. No one really does warn you about that. But I think that’s also because as a
society, we haven’t really been forced to confront that until recently. It’s mentioned
in this book but, you know, the way that science and medicine has advanced, people are living
significantly longer than they ever have before. Most people weren’t expected to live to like
80, let alone 90 years old and now I feel like being 80 years old isn’t even that bad
anymore. Because science and technology has advanced so much that it’s easier to take
care of ourselves. We don’t get sick as easily or the things that made us sick before don’t
make us sick anymore. We just take a couple pills and we’re over it, you know. But at
the same time our bodies are still deteriorating as we get older. And there’s only so much
that our bodies can do at this time to keep our bodies strong and able. Yeah, when you
hit 80 you might not be suffering from sicknesses the way that you did before but your muscles
are still deteriorating, your brain is still you know losing some connections, things like
that. And your nerves in your fingers and your feet are starting to go. And these aren’t
problems that we had to deal with before because when you were younger you would die from sicknesses
and diseases that would take you quicker and at a younger age. So no one really knows what
to do when we reach those stages in life and we don’t really know the best way to sort
of move forward in those stages in life. And so I think this book does a really great job
of just discussing that fact and discussing some of the alternatives that are starting
to pop up around the country at least in the United States and talking about whether or
not they work or they don’t work and how we need to move forward as a society and sort
of confront the fact that we’re getting older, um, we’re staying older longer. And we need
to learn how to, I don’t want to say handle people who are older, but we need to know
how to best serve them and how it’s going to change from individual to individual. There
isn’t going to be just one solid solution that works for everybody. Different people
want different things out of life. That’s why we have like different career paths and
different types of housing situations. Not every person who’s over the age of like 70
is going to fit into a nursing home very well or an assisted living home very or live home
in their own home very well, you know, it’s going to vary from person to person. And we
need to learn as a society not to just simply automate everything that’s happening, to look
at every individual case as to assess it, which is difficult. And that’s something that
as a country we need to learn and we need to get to that point and as a healthcare industry,
they need to learn to adapt to those situations. So yeah, this is just such a great book. I
think that, again, it should be required reading for everyone. I gave this a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
I think the only reason why I didn’t give it 5 stars is cause I kind of wanted more.
Um. This book is less than 300 pages and I kind of wish this book was a little bit longer
cause I think that there’s a lot that can still be discussed in this book. But I thoroughly,
thoroughly enjoyed it and I cannot recommend it highly enough. So yeah those are my thoughts
on Being Mortal. If you’ve read this book, feel free to leave a comment down below letting
me know what you guys thought of it. I know a bunch of you guys said that you’ve read
it and really enjoyed it so I’d love to talk about it down in the comment section with
you guys. Or if you have any questions feel free to leave that down in the comment section
as well. So yeah, that’s all I have for now and thanks for watching.

10 thoughts on “Being Mortal by Atul Gawande | Book Review

  1. This was so helpful, Rincey. I was on the fence about this one, but now I am going to pick this book up. Thank you.

  2. Great review! I listened to the audiobook and learned so much, and also wept so much. I agree this should be required reading for everyone!

  3. I'm do glad you're talking about this book. I Feek like it wss one of the books I tried the must to push on family and friends after reading it last year but only a couple people have taken me up on that.

    I'm lucky enough that both of my parents are still healthy but your right, the worst part of Adulting is watching your parents grow old. I have no living grandparents and reading this helped me to really think about the conversations I should have with my parents now and continue to have as they continue to age.

  4. Rincey, I read Signal to Noise based on your review. I absolutely loved that book. I read it in one day…and that never happens. I am generally a slow reader. But, that book was pure magic. Also, I enjoy your reviews so much and selfishly, I wish you had more reviews more often. I must now check out Being Mortal. I was a hospice volunteer for years.

  5. Thanks for the review. I'm sorry about your dad. I lost my dad to cancer over 10 years ago. I lost my FIL a couple of years before that. Luckily, I had a great support system and several people around me who made sure we knew what to expect…most of whom were older women. I'm extremely grateful to those women for gently shepherding me through the process. I'll be looking for this book soon.

  6. Great review – have you read The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande? I've read that book by him and this review made me want to read some of his other works. Will make sure to purchase this!
    – Noor

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