Sunday, February 28, 2010
Hospice Elders Need Control Opportunities During Dying Process
Control, we all crave it on some level. When it’s not there when we want it, our spirits feel stifled. Even toddlers will assert themselves when they feel their power slipping away. What about control needs of terminally ill elders in hospice care? Do they strive to exercise control over aspects of the dying process? Research says they do.
The School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison explored this issue through in-depth face-to-face interviews with 84 terminally ill elders receiving hospice care. Interestingly, all 84 elders used at least one primary control strategy. 83 of them practiced one primary control strategy in combination with anther primary or compensatory secondary control strategy. Aspects of the dying process that they sought to control were these: Decision making, independence, mental attitude, instrumental activities of daily living, activities of daily living, and relationships
Although over half of the elders wanted more control, they felt their illnesses prevented them from having it. How frustrating might that be? What do these results say to caregivers of terminally ill elders? They say that these elders are just like everyone else in wanting to feel empowered. These results remind us of how important it is to be sensitive to control needs of terminally ill hospice patients. Even as they are dying, they still need opportunities to be proactive in their everyday living.
Frances Shani Parker, Author