Being Mortal Book Summary - Being Mortal Book explained in key points
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Being Mortal summary

Atul Gawande

Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End

4.5 (161 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande is a thought-provoking exploration of aging and end-of-life care. The book confronts the medicalization of aging and death, while advocating for a more humane and holistic approach to this stage of life.
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    Being Mortal
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    Old age and disease result in a loss of independence, causing reliance on family, medicine and social programs.

    It’s unpleasant to think about death and disease. Yet every one of us will eventually be confronted with them, both directly, as our own body ages, and indirectly, as our loved ones age and pass on. Precisely because it’s inevitable, it is tremendously important to talk about death and dying.

    As we age, our organs slowly lose their strength and efficiency. Our bones, muscles and teeth, for example, lose mass, while our blood vessels and joints harden. As our bodies undergo this process, the heart has to pump harder to maintain blood flow, causing many elderly people to suffer from high blood pressure.

    Our brains aren’t spared deterioration, either; the brain shrinks in size, often resulting in dementia.

    As our bodily systems gradually fail us, we become more prone to injury and disease, and less capable of caring for ourselves.

    Muscle weakness, for instance, causes many elderly people to suffer dangerous falls. In the US alone, some 350,000 people per year break a hip due to muscle deterioration.

    The process of aging makes it harder to maintain an independent lifestyle. Even daily activities – from grocery shopping to using the toilet – become increasingly difficult.

    Eventually, we’ll need permanent help from family or medical professionals, which often means spending our remaining years in a hospital or nursing home.

    The increased vulnerability that comes with old age is a hard fact, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. It’s important, then, that we consider the realities of aging and death, and find ways to make the experience less painful.

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    What is Being Mortal about?

    Being Mortal (2014) helps the reader navigate and understand one of life’s most sobering inevitabilities: death. In this book, you will learn about the successes and failures of modern society’s approach to death and dying. You’ll also learn how to confront death and, by doing so, how to make the most out of life.

    Being Mortal Review

    Being Mortal (2014) by Atul Gawande examines the challenges of aging and end-of-life care in modern society. Here's why this book is essential reading:

    • It provides a thought-provoking exploration of medical ethics, patient autonomy, and quality of life.
    • The book shares powerful stories of individuals and families navigating difficult decisions.
    • It offers practical insights for improving care and communication during life's final stages.

    Gain a deeper understanding of mortality and compassionate care with Being Mortal.

    Best quote from Being Mortal

    People cant stop the aging of their bodies and minds, but there are ways to make it more manageable.

    —Atul Gawande
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    Who should read Being Mortal?

    • Anyone who has wondered how to improve the lives of the elderly and terminally ill
    • Anyone with elderly or terminally ill loved ones
    • Anyone who wants to improve their life by improving their death

    About the Author

    Atul Gawande is a doctor, author, researcher and professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. He has written two other books, Complications (2007) and The Checklist Manifesto (2011).

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    Being Mortal FAQs 

    What is the main message of Being Mortal?

    Being Mortal emphasizes the importance of compassionate care, patient autonomy, and quality of life during aging and end-of-life stages.

    How long does it take to read Being Mortal?

    Reading Being Mortal typically takes around 6 hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in 15 minutes.

    Is Being Mortal a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Being Mortal is a profound and insightful book that delves into the complexities of aging and end-of-life care.

    Who is the author of Being Mortal?

    The author of Being Mortal is Atul Gawande.

    How many chapters are in Being Mortal?

    Being Mortal by Atul Gawande has 8 chapters.

    1. The Independent Self
    2. Things Fall Apart
    3. Dependence
    4. Assistance
    5. A Better Life
    6. Letting Go
    7. Hard Conversations
    8. Courage

    How many pages are in Being Mortal?

    Being Mortal has approximately 304 pages.

    When was Being Mortal published?

    Being Mortal was published in 2014.

    What to read after Being Mortal?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Being Mortal, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
    • Death’s Summer Coat by Brandy Schillace
    • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
    • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
    • Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich
    • The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma
    • The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi
    • Third Millennium Thinking by Saul Perlmutter
    • Phaedo by Plato