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DEATH AT HOME OR DEATH IN THE ICU?

Every one of us will face this dilemma when our near one is about to breathe his last- Whether to admit the near one in the hospital for the best care facilities or to allow the dear one to die in the familiar cosy environment of home, surrounded by his relatives.

Once the verdict of impending death has been passed by the medical fraternity, we will have to make this choice. The dying one may need to be informed of his imminent death. In most cases the patient will already know it, from the inherent wisdom of his body. Be not shy to discuss death. The dying hate to be falsely reassured of a long life by their pretentious relatives. They may shun you and stop talking to you. On the other hand, discussing their desires, wishes and glories of the life lived and sharing the pains of the goals lost may give tremendous happiness to the departing. At this juncture they may be asked “Home or Hospital” Most cases it will be “Home!”

Then comes the patience, the wait for the inevitable. This period may be laced with enduring the tasks of cleaning urine, stool, vomitus, sputum and tolerating the stench of infection, bedsores and a putrefied body odour. However we have to understand that these are the residues of a crumbling body. We have to focus only on interaction with the individual’s mind, perhaps the final dialogue.

In the hospital, all inconveniences are spared. But there is no dialogue. No exchange, no heart to heart sharing of feelings for that one last time. All focus is on the medical management of the body, with no emphasis on the mind and heart of the departing and Barr his final communication.

Furthermore ventilators and life support technologies may sedate and handicap a person, causes hospital acquired infections and break his connection with his world. It may crudely snatch away his last glimpses of dear ones, last touch of the ones he loves.

The hospital may be your unconscious preference, as incurring a final expenditure may allow you to forgive the guilt of lifelong neglect of the dear ones.

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