Old age and death is a foregone conclusion with no open choices. But does this also mean no end-of life choices that help, an elderly dying a dignified and peaceful death? The department of health recently spoke of 60% compliance of hospitals with superior practices in end of life care to the elderly.
To research into this lofty claim, a survey was initiated, that revealed, many people in the sunset of their lives, often die a lonely death. Nearly 50% of the 800 odd health workers, who took a poll on the existence of policies for care of the aged, expressed the absence of concrete end-of life policies and practices that can accord a dignified death to the aged. Nearly 57% felt they were ill equipped to handle dying patients and can do better with more training and support. Some of the health professionals confessed that the care accorded to elderly patients suffering from cancer, dementia and heart disease was far inferior when compared to the younger patients.
Director of policy at Help the Aged Paul Cann said: "Too often, the idea that people 'die from old age' means that they are not receiving the care and support they need. The resounding message from many older people facing death is that they want to be treated as individual human beings, with emotions, feelings and spiritual needs, not as a machine that needs fixing."
Equity in healthcare that is devoid of discrimination is the much needed change in the mind-set, which would then reflect in the policies of the health care providers. It is also imperative to spruce up training and support that can measure up to the best in palliative care that is offered in hospitals, care homes and people's own homes.