Care Choices at End-of-Life

March 10, 2020

Most people are familiar with the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “…but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. While both of these topics are quite interesting, this article is going to focus on death. Well over 200 years ago, a prominent figure wrote about the certainty of death. Yet our country tends to view death as optional or as a failure. Value is placed on beauty, youth and technology instead of age, experience and family.

Everyone wants control over their own life. People want choices. Death is not a choice but how we die can be. Most people will express the desire to die at home, comfortable and surrounded by family. The reality in America is that most people die in the Hospital or facilities encumbered by machines, tubes and painful treatments. Why is there such a discrepancy between people’s desires and reality? How do we change the American culture? Where do we begin?

Hospice. Hospice is a choice. It is the one time in life when patients can truly direct their care. They can focus on comfort and quality. They can be comfortable and confident in making the decision to forgo unnecessary or futile medical treatment. They can die at home with dignity and respect. They can dictate and determine how their final months, weeks and hours will go. This is what the Hospice Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) is all about it.

People want choices. Death is not a choice but how we die can be.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The Hospice IDT is trained to treat the patient as a whole. It is a disservice to people to focus only on the physical aspects of their care. The goal of the Hospice IDT is to treat any and all end of life symptoms including those that are physical, psycho-social and spiritual. It is important for each member of the team to recognize the strengths of each discipline in order to collaborate and meet the needs of the patient.

The first step is increasing awareness and understanding. Hospice does not mean failure or giving up hope. Hospice is an aggressive type of medical care with the goal of overall well-being and comfort. It is about patient advocacy and autonomy. People have important goals to accomplish at end of life. They have desired experiences, conversations and connections. Hospice can help people maintain their identity and achieve a “good death”.

Contact Unity 24/7 if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a free informational visit in your home.

This blog post was shared by Sonja Kuehl, a Registered Nurse who is also a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse. Sonja serves as a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Unity Hospice.

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