Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness

Overview

Modern medical technology has changed not only the way we live but also the way we die. Until two generations ago, people usually died suddenly, after an accident or serious illness. Now, most of us may expect our dying to take longer, to require more care, and to demand more forethought than ever before.

Handbook for Mortals is warmly addressed to all those who wish to approach the final years of life with greater awareness of what to expect and greater confidence about how to...

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Overview

Modern medical technology has changed not only the way we live but also the way we die. Until two generations ago, people usually died suddenly, after an accident or serious illness. Now, most of us may expect our dying to take longer, to require more care, and to demand more forethought than ever before.

Handbook for Mortals is warmly addressed to all those who wish to approach the final years of life with greater awareness of what to expect and greater confidence about how to make the end of our lives a time of growth, comfort, and meaningful reflection. Written by Dr. Joanne Lynn and a team of expert physicians, this book provides equal measures of practical information and wise counsel. Readers will learn what decisions they will need to face, what choices are available to them, where to look for help, how to case pain and other symptoms, what to expect with specific diseases, how the health-care system operates, and how the entire experience affects dying persons, their families, and their friends. Such practical information is indispensable. But equally important are the personal stories included here of how people have come to terms with dying, how they have faced their fears and made their choices. These give us moving firsthand insights into a profoundly important process, one that is increasingly kept hidden in our culture.

The book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

P.C. Voice
In tackling this tough and touchy subject, the doctors manage to avoid the sugary sweetness of false hope while offering down-to-earth, encouraging advice of how to deal with a life-threatening illness.... Without telling anyone what they have to do, the authors provide paths based on their own and actual patients' experiences to follow, should one wish.... If death has become more real through a serious illness—whether for oneself or another—here is nicely-written guiding light through the tunnel of fear, confusion and grief that such a diagnosis brings.
ForeWord Magazine
Lisa Stepp
As we are living and dying in the information age, patients and family members often wish to increase their awareness regarding issues related to end of life. In this text the authors eloquently speak to all of us in regard to the experience of serious and terminal illness. The directness of their style gives a personal feel to the information, as do the very personal stories that are shared. The poetry and pictures are moving and cathartic. According to the authors, the purpose is to guide individuals faced with serious illness and death through this very human experience. The authors provide practical and reassuring information that we will all need at one time or another. As physicians, the authors bring the compassion expected from a physician as well as a wealth of knowledge and experience to this topic. The information is appropriate for family members, loved ones, patients, and caregivers. As our modern medical technology continues to change the way we live and die, our need grows even stronger for direction in managing difficult emotions and decisions at the end of life. All facets of end of life care from how to talk with your physician to the specifics of planning ahead for special circumstances are covered in this text. Truly, this is a compassionate yet direct explanation of what to expect and how to deal with changes during this time. The authors address the issue of addiction versus tolerance and addiction head on. This text is the most comprehensive to be found on this topic. Most of the literature available to date regarding end of life issues have been very clinical in their focus; however, this text is aptly named a handbook for all -- clinicians and laypersons -- can benefit from this book.
Library Journal
Designed for caregivers as well as patients, this book combines insights and inspiration with practical information and sensible suggestions for coping with critical, debilitating illnesses and the attendant problems such as accepting a new lifestyle, controlling pain, getting help, deciding on medical treatment, and enduring a loss. The death of a child, sudden death as the result of an accident, and similarly atypical instances are discussed briefly. Throughout, there are poignant excerpts from literature and case descriptions. Appendixes list organizations and sources of further information or assistance. Constance Joness R.I.P.: The Complete Book of Death and Dying (HarperCollins, 1997), which includes statistics, varying cultural practices, and more information resources, covers the topic more comprehensively. Nevertheless, this handbook, edited by the director of the Center To Improve Care for the Dying (http://www.gwu.edu/~cicd), exudes a compassion and warmth that will appeal to individual readers.Margaret Norden, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A clear guide and a steadying hand for those with a life-threatening illness: medical, emotional, spiritual—and above all, practical—help for day-to day living. Lynn (director of the George Washington Medical School Center to Improve Care of the Dying) and Harrold (a fellow at the National Cancer Institute) have abundant experience and it shows here. They clarify and articulate the issues and concerns, physical and otherwise, that come with facing death. First and foremost, "If you have been pursuing all sorts of treatments and technology that are uncomfortable, how do you know when to let go of these and make different plans for how to spend the rest of your life?" From this starting point, the authors are able to help readers create their own approaches to a period of life when the duration and timing are unpredictable, but a singular opportunity exists for growth and finding peace. Lynn and Harrold go on to consider practicalities at length and in depth, from helping families make decisions as a unit to finding community support services, communicating with physicians, and controlling pain and other disturbing symptoms. When the end is in sight, the authors again first provide a focus: "How do you handle the urgent need to find meaning for yourself in what is soon to be a completed life?" Then, practical help abounds: among the issues, plans that must be made ahead, decisions to forgo medical treatment, and hastening death. Lynn and Harrold's discussion of assisted suicide is a model of sensitive, knowledgeable medical care. Coping with the events near death, enduring loss, and help with some specific situations (loss of children among them) receive the sameilluminating discussion. An up-to-date resource list rounds out this guide. An unflinching look at the painful tasks and opportunities for growth that accompany the end of life; coupled with invaluable help for completing them. .
From The Critics
Reviewer: Lisa Stepp, PhD, RN, APN, AOCN, CRNH (Private Practice)
Description: As we are living and dying in the information age, patients and family members often wish to increase their awareness regarding issues related to end of life. In this text the authors eloquently speak to all of us in regard to the experience of serious and terminal illness. The directness of their style gives a personal feel to the information, as do the very personal stories that are shared. The poetry and pictures are moving and cathartic.
Purpose: According to the authors, the purpose is to guide individuals faced with serious illness and death through this very human experience.
Audience: The authors provide practical and reassuring information that we will all need at one time or another. As physicians, the authors bring the compassion expected from a physician as well as a wealth of knowledge and experience to this topic. The information is appropriate for family members, loved ones, patients, and caregivers. As our modern medical technology continues to change the way we live and die, our need grows even stronger for direction in managing difficult emotions and decisions at the end of life.
Features: All facets of end of life care from how to talk with your physician to the specifics of planning ahead for special circumstances are covered in this text. Truly, this is a compassionate yet direct explanation of what to expect and how to deal with changes during this time. The authors address the issue of addiction versus tolerance and addiction head on.
Assessment: This text is the most comprehensive to be found on this topic. Most of the literature available to date regarding end of life issues have been very clinical in their focus; however, this text is aptly named a handbook for all — clinicians and lay persons — can benefit from this book.

5 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195146011
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Joanne Lynn, MD is one of the first hospice physicians in the US, one of the major contributors to research and policy on care for the last phase of life, and a former professor at Dartmouth and George Washington University .
Joan Harrold, MD is the Medical Director/Vice President of Medical Services of Hospice of Lancaster County in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Janice Lynch Schuster is Senior Writer for Altarum Institute, where she specializes in writing about health care and public health. She has worked with Dr. Lynn since 1997 on efforts to improve end-of-life care.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
1 Living with serious illness
2 Enduring and changing
3 Finding meaning
4 Helping family make decisions and give care
5 Getting the help you need
6 Talking with your doctor
7 Controlling pain
8 Managing other symptoms
9 Learning about specific illnesses
10 Planning Ahead
11 Forgoing Medical Treatment
12 Hastening Death
13 Coping with events near death
14 The dying of children
15 Dying suddenly
16 Enduring loss
17 Additional resources
Acknowledgments
Index
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2002

    This book helps

    For difficult times in life, and tough issues, often a family doesn't even know where to start, nor the questions to ask, nor where to find help. This book provides a good starting point, and provides excellent resources to more information.

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