Term Paper: Hospice View of Death and Dying as a Natural Event

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Hospice View of Death and Dying as a Natural Event

Some diseases prove to be too strong for medical science to eradicate within the body.

The popular treatment for terminally ill patients is to enroll into a Hospice.

Yet, this has created a negative reputation.

Despite any common public misconceptions of hospice care, the true philosophy behind hospice methodology is based on a peaceful understanding of a natural event within the life cycle.

Popular Misconceptions of Hospice Care

Entering hospice care as a negative sign of giving up.

This conception scares both patients and family members from considering using the hospice services.

Therefore there is a negative stigma associated with entering into hospice care.

True Hospice Philosophy

The actual philosophy behind hospice care revolves around accepting the natural life cycle.

Part of that natural cycle is death.

That the individual at hand should be the focus of the care, beyond anything else.

Hospice Methodologies

Focusing on "the person instead of the disease," (American Cancer Society, 2008).

Focuses on alleviating pain as a way to be comfortable during this last experience.

Includes the support and involvement of family members as a way to further comfort the patient.

Benefits of the Hospice for the Patient

Sometimes normal treatments become more of a burden to the quality of life of a patient.

It is in no way a white flag, if a patient were to show signs of improvement he or she could be re-introduced into treatment.

It also provides the family time to enjoy their loved ones.

Conclusion a.. Death is a natural part of life, and hospices services, although different from traditional methodologies, prove beneficial in dealing with death.

Hospice View of Death and Dying as a Natural Event

Not every disease has a cure. Some diseases prove to be too strong for medical science to eradicate within the body. What do we do when faced with a truly terminal disease? One answer was the creation of the St. Christopher's Hospice in England in the 1940's, (Harrison, 2007). This institution relied on the care of individuals for their physical and mental comfort rather than the continuation of treatment meant to strictly fight the disease at the behalf of the patient's comfort. Since its first inception into the U.S. In the 1970's, the popular treatment for terminally ill patients in the United States is to enroll into one of a variety of hospice care methods, yet this association with death and dying has given hospices a negative association. Yet, despite any common public misconceptions of hospice care, the true philosophy behind the hospice methodology is based on a peaceful understanding of a natural event within the life cycle itself.

However, with this popularity has come several negative connotations which have been a deterrent of support from many within the community. There are many misunderstandings associated with hospice care and philosophy which are related around the idea that the patient is throwing up the white flag and giving up. When a patient does decide to stop treatment and enter a hospice program, it is commonly mislabeled as a negative experience, rather than the true intention of hospice care. This misunderstanding has placed a negative and almost morbid label on many people's perceptions of what a hospice is and how it functions. Potential patients as well as family and friends are scared when the idea of hospice care is brought up in many individual cases. It is a very hard decision to deal with, however it is not to be seen as a hopeless endeavor. Due to many individual's lack of understanding of death as a normal stage in the life cycle, the idea of sheltering the dying seems like a scary conception.

However, this idea of death as a natural part of life is the major element within the philosophy of hospice care. The philosophy behind the treatment of methodologies used within the hospice care "affirms life and does not hasten or postpone death," (American Cancer Society, 2008). This is not to be seen as a negative thing, for the philosophy rests on the idea that everyone dies at one point. Death is a natural part of life, and therefore it should be addressed and prepared for in the event that treatment has failed to promise the patient a return to normal life, hospices promote "understanding and accepting that the journey of life eventually leads to death, and encourages people to view this experience as an opportunity for growth," (Harrison, 2007). Part of the idea behind the life cycle is also the belief that the individual is at the center of that cycle and should be the one in charge of decisions made about their own bodies and treatments; the hospice "Promotes self-determination, as patients and families participate in their plan of care," (Harrison, 2007). When the individual, along with the advice and support of their physicians and family decide that a hospice is the best route that individual is taking a huge step in accepting the fact that life is not always forever, and treatment is not always a miracle cure.

At a certain point unique for each individual, treatment for various terminal ailments becomes more of a burden to the patient's comfort during the final stages of life. When the decision is made to stop treatment of a patient by a collaborative belief that the treatment is doing nothing more than prolonging pain within the patient, that individual has the option in entering into a hospice program. The various types of hospices offer patients around the world a more peaceful way to relieve their pain, rather than fight their disease through treatment, "The goal of hospice is to enable patients to continue an alert, pain-free life and to manage other symptoms so that their last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones," (American Cancer Society, 2008). The hospice, then helps prepare for the future, while at the same time catering to the present to make life more comfortable for the patient.

There are several key factors which would influence a physician to advise a hospice care program over continuing traditional medical treatments. Traditionally, if a patient has received a prognosis of six months or less to live, a physician might recommend hospice care, (Help Guide, 2008). Fortunately, hospice services are offered around the country and have become affordable to many patients in need of their services. According to Health Guide, the cost of hospice care is actually lower on average to the cost of inpatient care in a traditional treatment methodology. There is no age or ailment requirement, for it is truly a decision to be made by the patient and his or her immediate family members. However, a decision to enter hospice care is in no way permanent, and a patient can choose to re-renter traditional treatments at any point.

One of the major elements of hospice philosophy is the idea to treat the individual over traditional medicine which focuses on the disease. While most medical organizations rush for the cure, hospice staff and volunteers rely on their focus on the individual patient's needs and wants in their care; they narrow down their focus to "the person instead of the disease," (American Cancer Society, 2008). Most traditional Western medical treatments aim to preserve the longevity of human life. Hospice care, however, is much different; "it focuses on quality rather than length of life," (American Cancer Society, 2008). However, at this point within the patient's life, treatment has been abandoned in hopes of making life easier to handle for those who will do not have much life left in their prognosis, "Care has to be individualized to meet the patient's and the family's needs, as well as being responsive to differences in lifestyles," (Harrison, 2007). This ***** from traditional Western medical approaches is meant to signify that the disease or illness if no longer the focus of the treatment. All medical efforts now center around the wants and needs of the individual patient, both mentally and physically. Therefore, the disease is not even a concern for hospice volunteers and staff members nor should it be for the patient of the family as well.

Pain is the major concern within hospice treatment. The major factor which makes hospice care differ so drastically from traditional medical treatment is the use of palliative care, (Harrison, 2007). In this methodology, pain is the main attack of hospice care. Treatment is administered, not to cure the disease, but to prevent it from causing unbearable amounts of pain which would further jeopardize the patient's quality of life during the hospice process. Palliative care "includes physical, psychological and spiritual comfort delivered by a multidisciplinary staff," (Harrison, 2007). Therefore traditional Western medicine used in terms of pain management is combined with other holistic methods of comforting the patient spiritually and mentally. Hospice care involves a variety of staff members who specialize in a range of fields, including counseling, traditional medicine, and spiritual matters.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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