Most of us are likely accustomed to the following hospital scene from any number of TV shows or movies:
Either a family is gathered around a loved one in a hospital bed or a character is sitting alone in an examination room—all awaiting the arrival of a doctor to deliver the bad news. This “bad news” is typically a terminal diagnosis or news of projected lifespan. In these scenarios, for the sake of drama, doctors are usually fairly blunt—using statements like, “You don’t have much time,” or “you’re going to die” and then simply walk off down the hallway.
The reality of the situation, though still organically dramatic, tends to be much more helpful in terms of what comes next—especially when it comes to the language used to talk about death—if “death” is discussed much at all.
“Isn’t ‘hospice’ just a word used to sugarcoat the concept of death?”
So, how do doctors tell patients they’re going to die? Well, in the way they convey most other information—with a plan.
It’s very rare that the TV or movie scenario mentioned above is actually what one experiences in such a situation. When all efforts to preserve the length of a patient’s life begin to fail, the care strategy simply shifts to preserving the quality of a patient’s life. Around this time, a doctor will typically ask the patient or their immediate caretaker:
“Have you all considered hospice care?”
They may also simply state.
“I think it would be a good idea for you to consider hospice care.”
While this may seem like code-speak for telling someone they’re going to die from their condition and that doctors have given up on the patient, this isn’t necessarily the case. When the subject of hospice care is brought up by medical professionals, this is simply discussing an adjustment of their strategy. So, no, “hospice” and “death” are not synonymous—people have even “graduated” from hospice care before.
And though “hospice” should not be synonymous with “death,” the terms closely coincide in the medical world. Why? Because medical professionals are plan-oriented care providers. Delivering a recommendation that you or a family member consider hospice care is not meant to make you ruminate on your mortality or become anxious, but rather to recommend the option that will result in the highest quality of life possible—as they would for any patient.
“So, is the word ‘hospice’ used to cushion the blow?”
It would be dishonest to state that some medical professionals don’t use the term “hospice” to cushion the blow of delivering an unfavorable prognosis. This has caused “hospice” to become a slightly loaded word. However, what comes to mind for patients or family members is not death, but rather continued care, comfort, and an end to many agonizing symptoms. For some patients who have experienced long, painful conditions and their associated painful treatments, hospice can be seen as a great relief.
Hospice Professionals in Tulsa, Oklahoma
If you or a loved one will need or is in need of professional hospice care, look no further than Cura HPC Hospice & Palliative Care. Reach out to speak to one of our experienced care specialists today.