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End of Life: Death and Dying

             During earlier generations, few people made it to a very old age. Now, most people are expected to live long lives due to the advances in the field of medical technology. The medicines from these advances have helped to reduce the deaths from infectious diseases. They have also helped with the early detection of fatal illnesses. Both of these have helped to make the time before Adying@ a bit longer. With these advances have come other questions that people are beginning to ask themselves as they become older.
             Very few elderly people want to burden their own children with their death. They also want to die with dignity while being surrounded by family and friends. This is because most people fear dying alone in a cold, dreary hospital room with strangers who sometimes put their routine and convenience ahead of the patient=s needs.
             One solution to these problems is a hospice. Originally, a hospice was a place. However, now it refers to the services that are brought into the dying person=s home. These services include everything from counseling, patient care, babysitting, or driving the person to the doctor. Hospices also attempt to reduce the emotional strain and the physical burden on the dying person and their family. They can also lower the costs of medical care because the patient will not have a long and very expensive hospital stay.
             Hospitals are dedicated to the prolonging of life while hospices are dedicated to dignity in death and making the patient comfortable in their last days. The goal of the hospital is to the patient=s welfare and to help the patient to become well again. The hospice=s goal is to relieve the pain and suffering of the patient. Although the patient=s medical needs are met, the primary concern is for the patient=s social and spiritual wellBbeing.
             With the technology available today there is the ability to keep the body alive indefinitely even after the brain, heart, and lungs have ceased to function, should a person still be kept alive? One question that needs to be answered is, AWho has the right to pull the plug?@ Should someone=s body be kept alive for years even though they are clinically dead?.

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