Archive for July, 2011

The American Perception of Death

This photo was taken by jimmedia at www.flickr.com

Over the past 100 years, the word “death,” in American culture has almost become a politically incorrect term. Think about it. What do people usually say after a death? He is no longer with us. He has passed away. He is in a better place. Rarely, do you hear someone say, “he has died.” Why is this? Are we being sensitive to the subject, or have we become afraid of the word death?

 Different cultures and religions around the world have their own views about death. Most religions believe a spirit leaves the body after death and moves on to another place such as heaven or reincarnation. To acknowledge this act, most cultures have a strict ritual that takes place to insure the spirit has the appropriate journey to its final destination. 

Within the past 100 years, the process of how people live out their final days has changed. Before, loved ones would pass away in the comfort of their own homes and families. A couple of close family members were primary caregivers and they used their own medical cures and treatments rather than a doctor’s. The modern healthcare movement has placed more terminally ill patients in hospitals instead of the patients’ home.

 With the rise of hospices in the nation, it seems Americans are trying to learn how to accept death rather than defeat it. A hospice is designed to treat the patient, not the illness. This simple idea relieves a lot of stress from the patients and their families because the victory in a hospice is not beating the illness, but accepting it, along with the death that follows.

 Getting to the point of accepting and understanding death is something that can only be done through communication and education. Having someone close to share your emotions and beliefs about death without sparking a debate can help you become more comfortable with the subject. Also, educating yourself about cultures’ perspectives of death can help enrich your understanding and help bring closure.

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What Is Hospice Care?

Houston Hospice Staff

Houston Hospice Staff

When a patient with a severe illness decides that curative measures are no longer appropriate or effective, the option of hospice care is a compassionate, dignified and cost-effective end-of-life care option. When possible, the patient can receive treatment within his or her own home. The hospice team who visits the patient on a regular basis consists of a nurse, hospice aide, social worker, volunteer and chaplain. Staff physicians are consulted and are available when necessary.

 

The essence of Houston Hospice care is:

Following assessments in the areas of physical pain, emotional needs, spiritual issues, legal concerns and practical arrangements, the patient, family and physician approve a plan of care. Being involved in making the plan helps patients and families face the last stages of life more comfortably and confidently.

Patient care is provided by Houston Hospice in the home, in a nursing home or residential facility or in the Margaret Cullen Marshall Hospice Care Center which is located in the Texas Medical Center.

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When is Hospice an Appropriate Alternative?

Hospice care becomes an alternative when a patient has reached the last phases of a terminal illness and has been given a prognosis of six months or less.  The subject can be addressed at any time during the illness as physician and patient discuss treatment options.  When a patient chooses hospice, the decision to give up curative measures is made in favor of comfort care, focusing on pain management and symptom control, psychosocial support for both patient and family and ancillary services that lessen the burden of illness and care giving.

Please contact us or visit our web site  http://www.houstonhospice.org for more information.

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