Hospice Care: Counseling and Caring for Terminally Ill Patients

Hospice care refers to the philosophy of care which attends to patients who are nearing death due to illness or natural causes. Once it becomes apparent to doctors that a patient’s illness has reached a stage where he is beyond cure or recovery, doctors advise the family of the patient to admit him in Hospice Care. In the last stages of a person’s life they are likely to be plagued by varied thoughts that are mostly regretful, depressive or fearful in nature. Naturally, no one wants to die, but death is after all an inevitable reality. Therefore, a special field of counseling and care called hospice care has been evolving since the early 11th century. It began in Europe but has slowly spread to the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Africa, Australia and other countries. This field of counseling in hospice care caters to the emotional needs of those who are nearing the end of their life.

During the final stages of one’s life, when one is mentally aware of the fact that they will soon pass away, it is quite difficult to be in control of one’s thoughts and feelings. One of the most common feelings that is experienced by individuals is that of regret. Nurses of hospice care have reported that people’s dying thoughts are mostly about wishing they had spent their life differently. Some patients said that they would have been more happy embracing death if they had lived their life on their own terms as opposed to living a life that was dictated by societal pressures. Others stated that they wished they had not spent their life as a workaholic, but had instead been more conscious of staying connected with their friends and family. Yet another common regret of dying patients was that they wished they had been more expressive towards their loved ones over the course of their life.However, the most recurring wish expressed by patients in hospice care was that they wished they had spent their life being more content and grateful.

Regret is just one of the feelings that needs to be tended to in hospice care. One of the most recommended counseling techniques used to help such patients is to encourage them to try to counter their regrets. They may have limited time  hospice care provider but asking patients to make an achievable bucket list and then work towards achieving all that they enlisted is a good way to prevent patients from getting lost in a depressive quicksand.

Another most common feeling that nurses of hospice care have to deal with is that of fear. Nobody knows for sure what death and the life beyond it is actually like.Additionally, most religions have imbedded the belief in their followers of an eventual meeting with their Maker in which He would question the individual’s accumulative deeds and intentions. Therefore it is only natural that almost 97%, if not more of those who are aware of their impending death would be fearful.

In hospice care, patients who are fearful of death are reminded of the Lord’s inclination and keenness to forgive His people. Patients are helped towards seeking forgiveness and expressing gratitude to God as per their own religion. Any request for religious or spiritual reading material is also fulfilled. Additionally, patients are guided to spend as much time as they can with their families, as family members can best help them heal their emotional wounds.

 

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