Caring Today for the Terminally Ill

Oct 21, 2011

End of life care known as hospice has changed a great deal over the centuries.  The clinical type of caring for the dying and their families began in the 17th century.  Hospice relies on a team of care-givers and may include a doctor, nurse, social worker, and chaplain.  Hospice of the Bluegrass chief medical officer Todd Cote says the approach may seem simple, but can be complicated.

“But, we’ve kind of proven ourselves.  Oh, hospice is so nice and simple and really nice people.   It’s like…I think we are…but it’s pretty complicated and complex as complex as other health care services that everyone is familiar with,” said Cote.

In the treatment of pain, morphine is considered by many in the medical profession as the ‘gold standard’.  Morphine is also the drug of choice in the treatment of terminally ill patients.  Cote says most pain faced by hospice patients is controlled.

“Half the time we’re using Opiodes like Morphine, we’re using it for breathing problems….patients with lung cancer….patients with emphysema… that are declining to their death” added Cote.

End of life issues are never easy.  One age old question a family may wrestle with is where their loved one dies.  Cote says the majority of Americans don’t die at home.

“I think the majority of us would want to die at home, but the reality is, about half of us or actually 25 percent of Americans die every year in the home.  The majority die in a nursing home or the hospital.  And that’s been kind of the tradition for several years now,” said Cote.

 Hospice uses a team approach to assist families going through a death experience.  Typically, it consists of a doctor, nurse, social worker, and chaplain who visit the patient and family members.