Comforting a dying patient is very important. The person is to be comforted not only physically but also spiritually and emotionally. Doing this is not an easy task. There are times that not all of these aspects can be comforted and a dying person may die with pain, guilt, unresolved issues or questions about life.
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The first and most important issue with a dying person is physical comfort. Pain is the biggest problem with a person. If pain is not resolved, it will cause secondary problems such as anxiety. There are many physicians that do not increase medication dosages because they think that the person is not near death or that it can suppress the persons’ respirations. An example of this is morphine. If morphine is given to a person who has respiratory problems, this can suppress the persons’ respirations and he/she can die. Some people may call this malpractice and others may call this euthanasia.
Another problem with physical comfort is that a person may be bed bound due to the dying process and may develop contractures or bedsores. These contractures or bed sores may cause pain and problems with comfort. Turning and propping the person on pillows and also massaging the reddened or sore areas on the body can prevent this.
One other problem an individual may have while dying is the use of tube feedings for anorexia and other life sustaining measures. These measures may prolong the life of a dying person, which may not be necessary. If a person decides he/she does not want to eat, a feeding tube such as a peg tube may sustain the life of a person who would rather die.
Spiritual comfort may be necessary for the dying individual. This can be helpful in asking questions about life and its purpose, to find God and reconcile with friends/family. There are many people who do not get spiritual healing during life or even during the dying process. These people may die with anger, remorse, guilt, or even in need of knowing God loves them and will take care of them. Emotional support is the last comfort. This is given to the dying individuals who need help coping with their issues and with grieving. There are many people who die alone and without any support or anyone to care and love them at the end of their life. This happens many times at a hospital. There could be a patient who is dying and this person has no one to care for them that are relatives of friends. The nurses’ bathe him/her and care for him/her, but she/he cannot be in the room with the person at all times. This person is ready to pass, but may pass alone because the nurse is just too busy to be in there at the time.
All of these comfort and supports may help a dying individual die with respect, love and dignity. The body, soul and mind need to be taken care of during the dying process to be comfortable.
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