The Maps We Need to Care For the Dying

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2 weeks ago
“You can’t use an old map to explore a new world.”
~Albert Einstein
  
  

Taking care of someone at end of life is different from taking care of someone who is going to get better. The challenge is that most people, including healthcare professionals, don’t know this. Most use “old maps to explore this new world” of end of life.

I say “new world” because we used to understand that everybody dies. Grandma used to die in the upstairs bedroom with her family present and the cat on the bed.  

As the medical establishment became more sophisticated, death became the enemy, more a failure than a natural occurrence. Dying stopped occurring at home and began happening in hospitals and in nursing facilities. 

“Maps” on how to cure people were followed even though a cure was not possible. Now we are returning to the home and the upstairs bedroom to die, BUT we have forgotten how death happens. We have not been exposed to dying as we once were. Now we need a new map.

Because of knowledge we’ve lost when people began dying in places other than home, we judge approaching death by the treatments and procedures used in getting people better.

The “new world” of end of life care addresses some aspects of care you would find in a hospital setting, but includes many areas that are unique to end of life. The physical areas include food, sleep, positioning, skin care, mouth care, bowel management, and pain and discomfort management. Emotional areas consist of discussions about the disease process, about feelings, fears, guidance on relationships. The spiritual area provides guidance on processing a life well lived, exploring regrets, and finding meaning.

We at BK Books offer the new “maps” in the form of end of life booklets, books, DVDs, and podcasts. We have made road maps to explore this new world.

 

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Jordan M
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