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With an ageing population and the increasing burden of dementia, Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, it is difficult to imagine how already stretched social care systems can cope. Perhaps we could learn lessons from Atul Gawande's thoughtful ideas in Being Mortal,1 a widely acclaimed book recently read simultaneously by the Gloucester and Cardiff Neurology Book Clubs (figure 1). The author, a surgeon and professor at Harvard Medical School, Boston, addresses two themes: caring for the elderly and palliative care for the dying. He uses patient stories, friends’ anecdotes and his own father's illness to frame chapters that gently discuss ways to improve our management of the ageing process.
Our overall impression of Being Mortal was mixed. We felt the writing was accessible to a wider audience but that the issues …