Planning for Life

End-of-Life Myths - Massachusetts

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on February 5, 2013

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By Harry S. Margolis

Tani Bahti, a registered nurse and end-of-life consultant in Tucson, Arizona, recently published an eye opening article in NAELA News, the magazine of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys debunking the many misconceptions that most people have about the end of life. Here are a few of them:tani bahti

  1. Dying is painful.  It's unusual to experience pain because dying generally involves the body shutting down. When pain does occur it should be treated with medications.

  2. If you don't eat, you'll starve.  Again, the body is shutting down and needs little food. A feeding tube is ill advised because it can lead to discomfort and complications.

  3. Dehydration from not drinking is painful. Again, the dying body does not need very much in terms of liquid. Artificial hydration can lead to nausea, vomiting, swelling and lung congestion.

  4. Narcotic pain medication may cause loss of control or hasten death. This is not true if they are properly prescribed.

  5. Confusion or sleeping all of the time means the patient has been over-medicated.  Once again, the dying body is shutting down and fatigue and confusion are often natural results.

Misunderstanding the dying process can lead to over intervention by well-meaning medical professionals and family members and unnecessary discomfort for the patient.  Hospice services include measures to keep patients comfortable and to counsel loved ones on the process.

Ms. Bahti also has written extensively on these issues, including a book intitled Dying to Know -- Straight Talk About Death and Dying. She also leads training programs about the dying process.  You can learn more at her website, www.pathwayseol.com.

Topics: end-of-life

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