Nov 12, 2014

New book on the downside of "medicalizing" the aging process

Surgeon and author Dr. Atul Gawande's newest book, "Being Mortal," was recently released. Its sensitive subject matter has sparked serious debate among physicians, the clergy and the public. Gawande argues that our society has "medicalized" aging, resulting in a greater concern with extending life rather than helping people maximize the time they have left. Gawande believes that the medical community's focus on keeping people "safe" at all costs does a tremendous disservice to the aging, the sick, and their families. 

All of us have our own opinions on this most personal of issues. It's a subject that invariably comes up when my elder law clients discuss their preferences for health care, whether they want to establish a living will, etc. But whatever your personal feelings, you will probably find the book worth a read. Here are some recent reviews:

Another thought-provoking commentary on this topic is "Why I Hope to Die at 75 - An Argument that society and families - and you - will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly," by Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel. To be clear, the title is a bit of a misnomer. The author is not not actually hoping to die at 75, nor does he advocate that anyone else should. He simply says he just doesn't want to live to a very old age if the years prove to be too painful for him and his loved ones.

What do you think? My readers and I would be interested to hear your input. Post a comment!

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