End of Life Care Essay

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IToday in the 21st century the options for end of life care is innumerable; nursing homes, hospices, outpatient nurses, live-in aides, family support, etc. are just a few of the possible choices. Techniques and approaches regarding end of life are similar: there is surgical care; there is palliative care, living wills, euthanasia, artificial organs/replacement, “full code” as opposed to “DNR” in hospitals, etc. While some argue that more options can be overwhelming, the quality of life and end of life solutions are undisputedly better than before in American history. (1) Until the mid 1900’s, end of life could be summarized succinctly: if you were rich and merely elderly rather than infirm, you had the means to hire attendants and…show more content…
To gain access to these care facilities, one needed vouchers of good character and large sums of money. (3)
Conditions were even worse in the past: folk stories and fairy tales often include the elderly and infirm in their stories, always in terrible conditions: in Beauty and the Beast an “old hag” is homeless, ugly, and completely impoverished. In the Water of Life, the youngest son and protagonist is aided by a handicapped dwarf, also ugly and impoverished (save for good advice and a kind heart). One of the evils that Pandora released was “old age.” The quality of being elderly itself was akin to being diseased with the uniform wish to have a speedy and peaceful death. (4) Today life has changed drastically: in 2004, approximately 16,000 nursing homes were in operation, and although better rich than poor, America is progressing so that all citizens will have access to healthcare. Social security, pensions, etc. came into being in the mid 1900’s; end of life is no longer a certain mark of suffering and call for early death, but rather a series of lifestyle choices of: “How can I best enjoy the golden years of life,” a paraphrased popular saying which well sums up the change in end of life decisions (which have even now become a golden prospect). (5) The advances in technology have allowed “end of life” to become an extended, and often ambiguously defined time period. Although most humans certainly die before 100 years, the end
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