It’s the conversation nobody wants to have — how we age and die — but Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal” paints a detailed, insightful picture of the final phase of life that compels careful consideration and conversations with loved ones.

Gawande, a surgeon who is able to step back from the “fix it” philosophy of his profession, takes a clear and practical view of the end of our lives, from the path of physical frailty that leads to nursing homes to the end-of-life care that unwittingly puts idealized medical treatment before realistic outcomes. He illustrates the common pitfalls of elder care, some  pioneering, almost utopian approaches to aging in place and cautionary tales of end-of-life treatments that may (or may not) extend the lives of the terminally ill, but sacrifice the quality of life.

Compassion infuses Being Mortal, and it was fascinating to read Gawande’s humanistic philosophy of our late years and the models of care that should be available to us all.

#22 being Mortal