Read for Your Health: ‘Being Mortal’ delves into world of aging and death |

Read for Your Health: ‘Being Mortal’ delves into world of aging and death

Related Resources:

Treat Me Not My Age Mark Lachs, MD

The Art of Aging Sherwin B. Nuland

The Nine Myths of Aging Douglas H. Powell

“Being Mortal”   

by Atul Gwande, MD

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said, “And your hair has become very white; And yet you incessantly stand on your head. Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

— Lewis Carroll

This New York Times best seller addresses the issue of loss of control as we age, sicken and die. We live in a world where becoming dependent means relinquishing our rights to privacy and choice. After losing your physical independence, a life of worth and freedom is still possible, but institutional care can discourage it.

This book gives examples of care facilities that have managed to expand rather than restrict choices and independence of frail elderly or ill individuals. Expanding choices encourages independence, self-respect and a more fulfilling, enjoyable life.

Chapters also discuss end-of-life issues and hospice care. This is an informative and compassionate book for individuals with aging or declining family members.

The final chapters explore patient choices with case histories of people facing decisions, and the results of their choices. Choice both ennobles and empowers life. If you are older, give a copy of this book to your children. And Father William should be able to stand on his head.

Bill Emerson is a volunteer at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center’s Community Health Resource Center. To see the library’s collection of more than 1,600 books and videos on medical and scientific subjects visit Those interested in checking out an item may visit the Community Health Resource Center weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or call 970-870-1173.

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