Atul Gawande, 2014
This is my personal review of a book that has been interesting and helpful to me. It may be interesting to others — depending on one’s age. I am learning things I didn’t know about aging and having positive and negative feelings about the rest of my life. For example, I read that research is telling me I am “slowly falling apart”. And the author describes all the parts that are declining. The good news is apparently I am not rapidly falling apart. The bad news is that I am falling apart. I think I need to recognize, accept and deal with my declining years both rationally and emotionally.
The author is very concerned about the medical profession’s inability (and his own) to deal effectively with the later part of patient’s lives. Doctors aren’t trained for this and assisted living/nursing homes don’t succeed. To me the book had three parts, interwoven throughout.
1) The doctor/patient relationship: The doctor to be more like a counselor.
2) Assisted Living/Nursing Homes: Be more attentive to patient’s dying needs.
3) The aging person’s perspective in later life: This was the key part for me.
He uses case examples (of dying patient’s and his father) over and over to describe how the profession needs to improve. This got to be a little overwhelming to me at times but I realize it was his way of making his point. Hearing how people are painfully dying is not easy to take, but maybe it helps me avoid denial.
The fact that I am 88 years old and writing now about how I want to create my future life (in future blogs) is what made this book interesting and useful to me. I am not sure about recommending it to others. Eighty year olds may find it of interest. It may be helpful to others who are inclined to think about creating their future. Following are some of my “take-aways”.
Interesting things I am learning to think about:
- Eight Activities of daily living, without assistance – basic physical independence. Use toilet, eat, dress, bathe, groom, get out of bed, get out of chair, and walk.
- Eight Independent activities of daily living – the capacity to live alone. Shop, cook, housekeeping, laundry, medications, phone calls, travel on own, handle finances.
- There is no better time in history to be old.
- Sooner or later, independence will become impossible.
- Inheritance has little influence on longevity.
- It is not death the very old say they fear; but what happens short of death.
- What others want for the aging infringes on the aging’s sense of self.
- Patients want information and control; but they also want guidance.
- Two kinds of courage are required in aging and sickness: 1) Courage to confront the reality of mortality. 2) Courage to act on the truth we find.
- For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story.