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Living Well Dying Well

Dr Swami Shankardev reflects on a powerful new book about the challenges of ageing and how we regard dying in our society.

I have recently read a wonderful book called Being Mortal and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, a Professor in both the departments of Health Policy Management and the Department of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. I found the book well written, lucid and riveting.

Professor Gawande describes the problem of ageing in our technically advanced world, in which we have achieved greater quantity of life but perhaps at the expense of greater quality of life. He examines the evolution of the nursing home and describes how, for many people, the experience of dying has become something abhorrent and something to be avoided in conversation because we have seen so many people endure distressing deaths.

Ageing, a taboo topic

Perhaps we are ageing and dying poorly due to the fact that we as a society are unable to discuss or deal with the subject of our own mortality and thus we are not taking intelligent steps to create a better old age and a better death for ourselves.

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