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Making the End-of-Life Decision

Making the End-of-Life Decision

Sean Dent | Scrubs Magazine

Life is fleeting. We all know this. We only get one chance at it. I think it’s safe to say that most individuals are very familiar with father time. As we get older, father time ‘visits’ our life and all those around it quite often. No beating around the bush on this one – sooner or later we all die. Sorry if this is news to you.

Most of the time death is not something we ‘plan’ for, yet we all know it’s coming (sooner or later). Maybe we all keep convincing ourselves it will happen much ‘later’?

Time passes on, old friends and family also pass on. Yet, the majority of the public still don’t ‘prepare’ for death. And as a nurse, you’ve likely seen this firsthand, maybe far to many times.

Why does this happen? Is it because some think recognizing it will happen is ‘putting one foot in the grave’?? I don’t know. What I do know is most individuals have the forward thinking to purchase life insurance and can even have a final will drawn up, but still don’t plan for the actual process of death. The one question everyone needs to ask themselves and their patients is , “How do you want to die?”

Once again, it’s not a death sentence. It’s not a way of ‘asking’ for trouble. It only allows you and those you love to understand your wants and needs for when that ‘time’ comes. Death is feared by everyone, and horribly misunderstood. As a nurse working in critical care I’ve seen my fair share of deaths, both planned, unplanned. I’ve seen life being taken when the time is right, and taken too soon. They all shared one commonality – misunderstanding and confusion. A conflict of interest and communication between patient and family.

Everyone still thinks that Hollywood is the medical standard by which all sickness and healing is measured. If it happens on TV it should happen to me (and my family / friends / loved one). Life saving measure always lead to revival and a return to normal right?? One of life’s harshest lessons comes right at the very end. Death is not like Hollywood.

Here are some ideas to ponder and share with your patients when considering end of life care for you or those you love.

What if you can’t speak for yourself during the time of crisis?

Who can and will speak for you, truthfully, honestly and without reservation. Who will think of your needs above all else. The majority of the time the patients’ loved ones think the decisions they are making are in the best interest of the patient, but in reality all they want is to not lose their loved one. So they want everything fixed.

Next: What Do You Want Done in an Emergency >>


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    isucoll44

    over 4 years ago

    42 comments

    very informative article. As a hospice nurse I wish more people were educated about this then we wouldn't have the difficult job of educating them when they are admitted to hospice care. Many of thes patients are referd to hospice and it is up to the hospice nurse to educate them about end of life decisoins such as dnr and other aggressive treatments and other subjects that they never thought of. Also many of thes patients only have from a few days to a few weeks to make these decisions.

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