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  #1  
Old Nov 8, '04, 8:22 pm
sma sma is offline
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Default Church position on hospice

Does the Church have an official position on hospice? I have had only good experiences with it, but a friend says it is a path to euthansia and the patients are overmedicated to death.
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  #2  
Old Nov 9, '04, 4:05 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

unfortunately our family has had more experience than anyone should have on this issue of dealing with end stage cancer. for us hospice has been the exact opposite of euthanasia. it is standard medical treatment in hospitals that is the real horror, as the end stage patient becomes an experimental subject for all kinds of therapies, which are not going to help in the least, increase pain instead of ameliorating it, lengthen the misery of their condition beyong the natural time of death. Unless he has signed a DNR and living will, or a healthcare power of attorney, the family is helpless to do anything about it. If he has, he is allowed to die without adequate pain management and often to literally die of thirst and hunger.

In hospice pain is managed properly, hydration and nutrition are maintained, the process of dying is respected, and the patient is allowed to experience natural rather than engineered death. the problems with hospice care usually result from family members--sometimes competing with each other--try to manage the situation rather than letting the hopsice staff do their thing. for some reason, the relatives need to work out their own guilt over problems in the relationship with the patient through trying to take charge of the disease and management of the care.

the 4 relatives I am speaking of all died of something other than their cancer, heart failure or stroke, but we did learn the beauty and healing power of the dying process. do not fear death as the enemy when your loved one is battling a mortal disease. recognize and accept the Church's beautiful teaching on the truth about death, new life and resurrection. come to know the power of redemptive suffering, and witness the immense spiritual growth that can happen during this time, for the patient and the family.

sorry about no capitals but I am typing with braces on and cant manage shift key, will go back and fix typos now. you see, I am still typing and we have an edit function, but there comes a time in life when the time for remedying past errors has run out. then it is time to let the holy spirit take over and let Christ effect the healing, and that is what dying a natural death is all about. whether it is sudden or prolonged, if God is in charge there is nothing to fear.
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  #3  
Old Nov 9, '04, 4:40 am
thann thann is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

To answer your question, no, the Church does not have an official position on Hospice.

Hospice was an enormous help to my family when my father was dying. They did not speed his death -- death was imminent. Hospice made him comfortable in his final days, and they also made it possible to allow him to die at home in his own bed with his family around him.

Hospice centers vary in quality -- I have read some negative stories. The only one with whom I had experience is Hospice of Naples (Florida).

'thann
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  #4  
Old Nov 9, '04, 6:01 am
Br. Rich SFO Br. Rich SFO is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

Hospice has nothing to do with religion specifically. It is a system of managing and providing medical care. The family or the presons faith community if they do not have any family needs to provide the spiritual care. They also need to make sure that the health care workers understand the moral guideines of the persons faith. I see so many Catholic patients of Hospice who are visited by Protestant ministers instead of Catholic clergy because the family didn't take care of arranging visits and Hospice didn't know.
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  #5  
Old Nov 9, '04, 10:00 am
patricius patricius is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

My father's father was in hopsice for a few months before he died. It was a very positive experience for the whole family.

However, one should be watchful-- I don't think Hospice has an official policy requiring the use of feeding tubes for those who are physically unable to eat. I believe our Holy Father has said that we should not allow the dying to starve to death by failing to give them a tube. So if you have a loved one in Hospice-- make sure he or she is being fed!
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  #6  
Old Nov 9, '04, 11:20 am
Elizabeth B. Elizabeth B. is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

Although I don't have any firsthand experience with hospice, I've heard many good things about them.

I'd like to add that clear communication with the doctor and nurses is critical to determine if it is beneficial to insert a feeding tube. As a person nears death, the normal functions of the body gradually shut down. It is not unusual for him to stop eating. This is not a conscious decision on his part, but a normal part of the process. It is usually shortly after this that his organs stop functioning.

Shortly before my mother passed away, she stopped eating and we begged her to eat just a few bites. She said she simply was not hungry. A kind nurse recommended we spend our time talking and not fussing about her eating. She said this was normal at this stage.

When my father passed away, we chose not insert a feeding tube because his digestive system had stopped functioning. In this situation, we would have caused him a great deal of discomfort with no benefit.

I am not advocating against the use feeding tube. I agree 100% with the Church that food and water do not qualify as extraordinary measures. I am saying, though, that when the body stops processing food and water, a feeding tube may not help.
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  #7  
Old Nov 9, '04, 12:45 pm
PaulDupre PaulDupre is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

Quote:
Originally Posted by sma
Does the Church have an official position on hospice? I have had only good experiences with it, but a friend says it is a path to euthansia and the patients are overmedicated to death.
The Church does not have an official position of hospice per se. But it does have an official position on medication and pain management for the terminally ill:

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2279 "Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged."

Hope this helps,
Paul
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  #8  
Old Nov 10, '04, 6:29 pm
Mamamull Mamamull is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

The claim that control of pain vs. over-medication is one that really bothers me.

Many people seem to think that any pain control that uses X, Y or Z drug -- take your pick different people are biased about different medications a think that using a particular medication automatically is too much.

I have a friend, a priest who resigned after becoming priest personnel director of our archdiocese --he had a moral conflict with some policy -- who now works for a "hospice without walls" and counsels people in every hospital locally. He has a rating system for death:

1-10 for Spiritual and personal support.

1-10 for freedom from pain

1-10 for a having a voice in their care

A score of 30 reflects a person who has had a good death.

I know that it is not always popular to stand up for the suffering, but at least one can remember that what may seem like a lot of medication for minor surgery is often not major for person dying from cancer.
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  #9  
Old Nov 10, '04, 7:01 pm
SP38 SP38 is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

Hospice is a very recent experience for me. My father, age 63 spent his last 5 days at a hospice. They are there to make the dying person comfortable. They do not prolong or speed up the death process. They take it hour by hour, make the patient comfortable and give the patient what they want. They did nothing invasive like IV's or IM injections, or feeding tubes. Only oral pain meds, or a scopolamine patch behind the ear for excessive fluid in the lungs. They gave my father the food he requested. And oxygen to help him breathe easier. They are open for loved ones to visit, 24 hours a day. They were so loving and caring to my family.

I was skeptical at first hearing my father would be going to hospice.. and quite heartbroken, as it is the beginning of the end of life.. You don't usually leave hospice once you are admitted.
We had a positive experience with hospice. And I am thankful for those last 5 days I could spend with my dad.
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  #10  
Old Nov 10, '04, 7:51 pm
kmmd kmmd is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

When my father was dying of heart disease, after 30 years of suffering, 3 bypass surgeries, etc. (don't get me wrong, there were lots of good years in between). We all thought he would go out with a bang in the end, due to the many dramatic crises that he endured. But no, he just slowly and painfully slid away.

At the end, he begged for hospice, as it is quite famous for being able to help and he was, literally dying. But they kept putting us off and finally, the day before he died I learned that they were worried about who would pay for it. Medicare will pay for a nursing home or hospice but not both. If we had known in time, my siblings and I would have paid in a heartbeat, but instead of asking they just ignored us.

That was the only bad thing about his death. The nursing home, the doctors, the nurses, everything was as you would want it. But hospice said "no". And the reason was money. It sure leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
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  #11  
Old Nov 10, '04, 8:34 pm
Jermosh Jermosh is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

One of the most profound things I have ever done in my life that I am very proud of was when we traveled halfway across the country to live with my father in-law. He just had a stroke and would not be able to live on his own. My sister in-law already was taking care of him and had him on certain rules, like no smoking no drinking, etc, etc. I stopped all that he was in his 70s if he wanted to smoke, let him do it.

But in the end, when he was in the hospital for some heart issues. We wanted to be alone with me. He told me that "only 2 people have ever wiped his butt in his life his mother and him". He wanted it to stay that way. The Dr's wanted to do all kinds of tests, and therepies, this that. He wanted none of that, becuase he would be one of the veggies on the floor. He wanted to come home. So we signed the 3" thick amount of consent forms, set up a hospice nurse and brought him home. He died a week later, beer in his hand watching football on a nice monday night. The odd thing was the ambulance people never saw a person with a massive heart attack die with a smile. Its not always about quanity of life, quality is just as importent if not more.
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Peace :-), Jermosh
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  #12  
Old Nov 11, '04, 5:18 am
Lilyofthevalley Lilyofthevalley is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

In hospice pain is managed properly, hydration and nutrition are maintained, the process of dying is respected,
===================================
hydrating a person, with an I.V, who is about to die is one of the most cruel things that can be done to a person.
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  #13  
Old Nov 11, '04, 9:12 am
michael8975 michael8975 is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

The Hospice I volunteer at is run by a sister. While I don't think it equates to an endorsement by the Catholic church, I certainly think it speaks to the honorable nature of the Hospice system.
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  #14  
Old Nov 11, '04, 7:39 pm
Path Path is offline
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Default Re: Church position on hospice

I have worked and volunteered at a Florida Hospice for 4 years. I have witnessed many people dying and it is amazing how well Hospice deals with all the different types of people and illnesses. We are told not to bring up religion or God unless specifically asked (this is tough sometimes)but we are trying to make their last days as painless as possible and there are Chaplains on staff. I can see no reason why the Church would have any problem with Hospice at all. I see many die pain free which is amazing, Hospices know how to deal with pain. Hospice is free only charging what Medicare and insurance cover. We are always looking foor donations. We have large houses where patients come to live out their last days as well as going to their homes if they have a care giver to help them. Many are so impressed they leave everything to Hospice in their will. It is a truly uplifting experience to be involved!!
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