End of Life Category
End of Life – Death isn’t a subject we talk about or think about until an event occurs to force us to confront the reality of death. We’re living longer than previous generations. By the age of fifty some of us haven’t experienced a death in our immediate family. When the subject of serious illness arises, we find it difficult to accept or to comprehend the situation. We’re unsure how to react or even what to say. End of life offers the opportunity to show appreciation for loves ones, to reconcile relationships and to honor the lives of loved ones.
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Physician communication with caregivers and aging adults about medical prognosis falls into the uncomfortable area of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Family caregivers and aging adults don’t ask because the information received may eliminate hopeor be emotionally distressing.
How many of us consider that many of the older adults we care for are in the last years of their life? How many of us realize our ability to positively impact their life? How do you envision the last years of your life? I don’t know many people who purposely say, “I want to be as miserable as possible the last couple of years before I die.” How many people want to end life alone, isolated, in poor health or without the companionship of others? Not many, yet it happens. One day all of us will take this journey, we can’t avoid it.In our daily work with older adults, how can we support those already on this journey?
Death, not space, as mentioned in repeats of the old television series Star Trek, is the final frontier. Death is a frontier most of us do not want to think about yet alone discuss until there is no other choice. Fear, whatever the fear, is a subject we are also uncomfortable discussing unless we are engrossed in reality television or watching scary movies that we know in our hearts and minds are not real.
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Health care reform is in the press and arguments about whether the government’s idea of rationing “will kill grandma” has delivered a great deal of controversy. Studies of healthcare in England place a value on the last year of life at $45,000. If the care required by an individual exceeds this amount, whether or not they will receive additional care is debatable.