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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 324

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Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande is a surgeon, a Harvard professor, a public health researcher, a best-selling author, and a staff writer at The New Yorker. Gawande learns to accept the reality of death and decline after his father suffers from a terminal illness. His book, Being Mortal, is based on his personal and professional experiences. The stories help the reader to view the world from the perspective of the elderly.

Atmaram Gawande

Atmaram is Atul's father. A surgeon himself, Atmaram learns that he has a tumor in his spinal cord. When faced with the dilemma of various treatment options, he opts not to undergo any major surgery. Instead, he remains as active as he can till the end, and just before his death, he requests for medication to be at peace. Atmaram chooses well-being over survival.

Alice Hobson

Alice is Gawande's grandmother-in-law. Her deteriorating health compels her to leave home and move to a nursing home. She dislikes the atmosphere of the nursing home as it deprives her of everything that gives meaning to life. She arranges for a "Do Not Resuscitate" order and passes away soon after. Her story shows that the elderly need more than just safety to feel happy.

Lou Sanders

Lou is a 94-year-old, ex-veteran who lives in a Boston neighborhood. After a host of ailments, falls, and the death of his spouse, Lou decides to move in with his daughter Shelley. His daughter is a supportive caregiver. However, Lou's needs are at odds with the realities of the modern nuclear family, and his transition is difficult.

Keren Brown Wilson

Keren's mother suffers a stroke and moves to a nursing home. She begs Keren for a life where she would be "a person living in an apartment, instead of a patient on a bed." With her academic degree in social policy, Keren strives to clear endless financial and bureaucratic hurdles, to establish the first assisted living facility in Oregon, in 1983.