“Don’t block the exit” – We need to learn to allow natural death before we legalize assisted dying!

As we listen to the debate about Medically Assisted Dying, and hear the appeal for Physician Assisted Dying, let’s step back a few years and learn from what once was.

What would the picture look like if we allowed people to die when their bodies were dying, if we did not prevent death, and if we do not push medical extremes to the extremes?

Dying is a natural experience.  We have become so good at preventing death that we have forgotten to allow dying to occur when a person stands on deaths doorstep and the door opens.

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Death and Dying in the 21st Century… how fascinating!

You may have heard of “midwives” and “birth doulas” but have you heard of “midwives for the dying” or “death doulas”? http://www.agentleguide.com/

You know about home deaths, but have you heard about “home funerals” or “family directed funerals”?  http://homefuneraldirectory.com/

You know about environmental programs to minimize environmental impact, but have you heard about “green burial” as a way to restore or preserve the habitat? (www.greenburialcouncil.org )

And you may know a lot about facebook, but do you know the issues that arise when a person with a Facebook account dies?

Oh, just soooo much to learn about!  Visit the course calendar for more information on Septembers’ ONLINE course “Death and Dying in the 21stCentury. https://www.lifeanddeathmatters.ca/Online-Courses/death-and-dying-in-the-21st-century.html

"Window too high" Memorial at Woodlands.

New dimensions in palliative care: a palliative approach to …. final illness in older people

Article by Linda J Kristjanson, Christine Toye and Sky Dawson published in 2003, cites the importance of a palliative approach when caring for those with neurodegenerative diseases as well as elderly people dying from diseases other than cancer.

  • “A palliative care approach has much to offer people in the advanced stages of neurodegenerative diseases, as well as elderly people dying from diseases other than cancer.
  • Palliative care can be part of the treatment repertoire of any health worker, supported by intermittent consultation or referral to specialist palliative care services (eg, for management of neuropathic pain).
  • A palliative care approach encourages a focus on pain and symptom management, and prompts more open communication about end-of-life issues.
  • This approach recruits as necessary the expertise of specialists and multidisciplinary teams to encourage a flexible, responsive service.
  • Home carers and healthcare providers require education to ensure a palliative approach that meets the physical, psychological, spiritual and social challenges facing patients and their families, and enhances dignity and quality of life.”  Retrieved on October 8, 2011 from http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/179_06_150903/kri10329_fm.html

Although published in 2003, this is yet to be translated into practice, and into education of nursing students, health care workers.

Any great ideas on how to help educators teach a palliative approach in core curriculum?