Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Review - Sooner or Later: Restoring Sanity to Your End-of-Life Care

Given the interest sparked by physician Atul Gawande in his remarkable article in the August issue of The New Yorker ( Letting Go: What Should Medicine Do If It Cannot Save Your Life? ) information to help patients and their families address that very question couldn't be more timely. 

If family nurse practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist Damiano De Sano Iocovozzi has his way, we human beings would accept the fact that life itself is a terminal condition. As he points out in his immensely readable book, Sooner or Later: Restoring Sanity to Your End-of-Life Care, we're all going to die eventually (whether by accident, illness or old age)-and we'd best accept that reality now.

Once we've been told that we are terminally ill with little chance of remission or cure, the author contends, we need to know how to use wisely the precious time we have left: that space between diagnosis and choosing an appropriate level of care. Sooner or Later: Restoring Sanity to Your End-of-Life Care serves as a useful guide, reminding all of us that terminal illness and death are natural and inevitable parts of life, and dying is a process that can be successfully understood, worked with and managed.

Using a workbook-like format, the author lists questions for readers to ask themselves and their healthcare providers as they make their way among the various options offered to them, depending on the forms of disease, the goals of medicine, and their own personal goals, which may change as the disease process advances.

This book provides all the information needed to help newly-diagnosed, terminally ill patients and family members identify their concerns, so they can discuss them openly with one another and with their healthcare providers. It helps them make informed, rational decisions that best fit their needs and goals, helping them to live fully and without fear in the time they have left together. It reassures all of us that, once we accept our own mortality, steps can be taken to make the dying process a rich experience for all concerned.

I've listed this book on the Articles ~ Columns ~ Books page of my Grief Healing Web site as one I've read and personally recommend to my hospice clients, colleagues, and visitors. Students in all the healthcare disciplines (medicine, nursing, respiratory care, social work, chaplaincy, music, occupational and recreational therapies) would be wise to read it as well.

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