We will all do two things in our lives – pay taxes and die. We do the very best we can to plan for our taxes, why don’t we do as much to plan for our death? National hospice care service Hospice Foundation statistics show that Americans are more likely to talk to their kids about drugs and sex than they are to talk with their parents about death. Fewer than 25% of us have thought about how we would like to be cared for at the end of life and put it in writing. Even though nearly 36% of people will claim that they have told someone how they would like to be treated, in reality it is more likely that that information was communicated as a passing comment. One out of every two people interviewed said they would rely on family and friends to make decisions for them at the end of life, yet none of them have talked about their wishes! To compound the problem further, these same interviewees feel that enforcing the patient’s own wishes when they are sick with less than six months to live is the most precious thing you can provide to a loved one.
Dr. Stuart Lazarus of the National Hospice Foundation reveals that despite the fact that hospice care has been successful in America for more that two decades, one-third of Americans do not know that only hospice offers what people say they want when dealing with a terminal illness and limited life expectancy: choice in care, control of pain, medical attention, help for the family, spiritual and emotional support, and the option to remain in their own home.
Hospice is both a service and a philosophy. Hospice embraces the philosophy that quality of life is much more important than quantity and emphasizes caring rather than curing. The patient and their family have been informed of the diagnosis and they understand that continuing therapy will be palliative rather than curative in nature. The patient is no longer seeking active treatment for their disease. The primary goal is to provide comprehensive care to those terminally ill and to their families, helping them to continue life as normally as possible. Hospice care should allow the patient to die peacefully and with dignity.