#NFBookClub Being Mortal Discussion – Part 1

December 10, 2015 Uncategorized 11


So far, this book has included more stories and less science than I expected, but I’ve still been enjoying it and feel as though I’m learning a lot. I hope you’re all having a good time with it too! I know it’s the busy holiday season right now, so I appreciate you all taking the time to join in. If you want to hop in the google doc discussion anytime this month, you can find it here.  Our discussion questions for the first half of the book are below.

  1. Is the book what you expected so far?
  2. Have you learned anything that’s surprised you?
  3. Has this book made you think differently about what you might do as your parents age? As you age?
  4. Of all the aging experiences the author describes,  do any sound appealing to you?
  5. Do you have any ideas for what could be done to make the aging experience in the developed world better?

[inlinkz_linkup id=590018]

1. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I expected more science and fewer anecdotes. However, so far, I think that choice was a good one.  It seems as though happiness isn’t prioritized in retirement homes, in part because it’s difficult to measure, so the science and statistics I would like in addition to the anecdotes might not even exist.

2. What surprised me most was when the book got me thinking about how many health issues are inevitable due to aging, even in the developed world. For instance, I’d always taken it for granted that people lose their teeth when they get older and never wondered why this isn’t something we can prevent.

3. Oh yes! So far, it’s made me think that starting to see a gerontologist at some point is essential. I don’t feel as though anything the author has presented so far seems like a good option, unless you can find an assisted living facility that still matches the original vision for assisted living. I’m hoping that I’ll remember for my parents and that someone will remember for me that happiness can be more important than safety.

4. As I said in the previous question, no. I’m hoping we get to where the author mentions something better, because it currently sounds as though finding a really good (and probably really expensive) assisted living facility is the only potentially decent option.

5. Unfortunately, the main possibility I can think of is a better staff to elderly ratio at retirement homes or assisted living facilities. I am convinced that helping people continue to live independently is harder than simply taking care of them and probably requires more people, which means greater expenses that elderly people can’t all afford. Again, I’m hoping that with his greater knowledge of the topic, I’m hoping the author has other suggestions in the rest of the book.

11 Responses to “#NFBookClub Being Mortal Discussion – Part 1”

  1. Jancee @ Jancee's Reading Journal

    I’m not blogging this month, but I wasn’t about to miss an excuse to read this. So I’ll just answer here this time!

    1.Is the book what you expected so far?
    -I didn’t really have any expectations. Although it’s been one of this year’s biggest books, I’ve managed to learn pretty much nothing about it. In fact, I didn’t even want to read it at first. So my slate was pretty clean going in.

    2.Have you learned anything that’s surprised you?
    -I think I’m surprised that most people who come in contact with the elderly while caring for them don’t bother to learn about them, seek their preferences, or really form a bond with them. They prioritize safety and medical care while neglecting the patient as a person.

    3.Has this book made you think differently about what you might do as your parents age? As you age?
    -This book actually makes me scared a little bit. Right now, my grandmother is living with my aunt, but even living with family, she isn’t as happy as she would be if she could have continued living in her own home alone. I don’t see many other options, and it saddens me. To think of the future after reading this book, I feel a little depressed, to be honest.

    4.Of all the aging experiences the author describes, do any sound appealing to you?
    -Absolutely none. Loss of autonomy, friendships, and even basic human functions is not a thing I’m looking forward to.

    5.Do you have any ideas for what could be done to make the aging experience in the developed world better?
    -I wish I did. I loved the section about the original vision for assisted living. If we could develop that idea instead of focusing solely on profit and medical care, that would be stupendous. And I think just giving the elderly more autonomy in general, but especially over decisions that affect them would be helpful.

    Great book so far, so glad this was the pick!

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks for joining in even though you’re taking a blogging break! Like you, I was surprised that the people working with the elderly didn’t do more to make their lives better. It seems as though they all just accept that nursing homes are going to be depressing places. I was feeling pretty pessimistic about things after the first half to, so coming back to this now, I’m happy that the second half of the book offered some better alternatives!

  2. TJ @MyBookStrings

    Like you, I expected more science and fewer anecdotes. But once I adjusted to the style, I got on better with the book. Nothing I’ve read so far has really surprised me, unfortunately. I’ve had to deal with several friends and family members having to move into assisted living facilities and nursing homes, and none of the experiences have been particularly positive. I think too often we think that simply telling the elderly that a move is for the best and their safety makes up for all the disadvantages it has for them. Before reading the book, I was ok with getting older. I’m ok with my graying hair and the wrinkles I am starting to see. But now that I know what to expect, even if I live a healthy life, I am not looking forward to old age anymore. And sadly, the way things are going, I don’t see any change in the near future. As long as money talks, it will be hard to provide our elderly with better healthcare and living facilities. I also think a change in our mindset is necessary, one that better accepts death. It goes along with what the author said in the introduction that too often we simply opt for surgeries and treatments to prolong life, rather than considering how the person’s quality of life will be affected by them.

    • DoingDewey

      I agree with everything you have to say about this one! After I got used to the style, I enjoyed it. I’ve generally felt OK with the idea of aging, but this book made me dread it a lot more. I don’t think I realized before how many health problems are inevitable parts of aging for the majority of people or how depressing many of the living options for the elderly are. Like you, I’m concerned that the financial situation of the elderly could make this a hard problem to solve. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had friends and family whose experiences have made this book unsurprising to you!

  3. Kim @Time2Read

    I think I’m going to have to pass on this one. I still don’t have a copy, and with Christmas, I just don’t think I’m going to have time to squeeze it in this month….unless the book comes in from reserve and I cram it in after Christmas. I’ll try to join in again next month!

    • DoingDewey

      For the next read-along, I’ll be a little more cautious about picking new books! They can be hard to get a copy of and while I was able to get this one from my library, it should have occurred to me that everyone might not be able to. It’s just so tempting to pick up the new reads everyone is excited about 🙂

      Thanks for trying to join in! I hope you have a great holiday.

  4. Shay

    This book is still so popular that I just got a notice that my hold is in at the library! So I am going to be super late to the party, but still planning to read it.

    • DoingDewey

      Great! I know this is a busy time of year for everyone, so I made sure to leave the discussion link-ups open well into january and the google doc is available forever. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did 🙂

  5. Brona

    We have a super busy w/e so will add my two cents worth in a couple of days.
    Although most of my thoughts and impressions have been also stated by you and some of the others above.

    • DoingDewey

      Whenever you get a chance is always great. Since blogging is a hobby for all of us, I think laid back blogging events are the best way to keep things fun 🙂 I hope you had a fun weekend!

  1. So Long, Dear Friends | My Book Strings

    […] sorry I won’t be posting about Being Mortal, the December book for Doing Dewey’s nonfiction book club or about Emma (current readalong hosted by Dolce Bellezza). I have read both books, but I simply […]

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