Human life is a precious thing that starts in a beautiful mystery and meanders its way through ups and downs into tragedies and triumphs with plenty of laughs and tears to spare. And while we all intrinsically recognize that a newborn baby needs the utmost care, we sometimes fail to consider what happens at the other end of the spectrum when we age.
Getting old and approaching the end may not be as fun as other avenues of life, but it is both inevitable and necessary in order to complete the cycle of being human. From physical degeneration to mental decline, there are all sorts of decisions that need to be made in regards to how a person lives out their final days. Should they stay in a hospital? Live with family? Are there hospices or hospice services that will provide more personalized care and dignity to the person? More and more people are choosing the latter and it's easy to see why.
Far from being a new trend, holistic care hospice is a philosophy of complete hospice care for the future. By the numbers alone, this a growing field that will continually demand more attention. In fact, from 2000 to 2015 the number of hospice patients receiving care jumped from 513,000 to almost 1.4 million.
Instead of being at the sterile receiving end of a busy doctor in a crowded hospital, more people are choosing to receive holistic care hospice services towards the end of their life. For one, it has been found to be profoundly more relaxing on aging people to stay in their own homes (or familiar facilities) and recognized as a unique human being than to be constantly shuffled around a hospital as a number. Being in contact with the same provider, nurse, or caregiver through hospice services is more akin to staying with your family or belonging to a club than being processed through a vast bureaucracy. The level of personalized care that you can receive is vastly increased simply because caregivers in hospice services typically have fewer dependents than those in hospitals.
Second, there is evidence that having a personalized caregiver who is assigned to care for you is beneficial for overall health and wellbeing. Levels of stress, anxiety, and worry can decrease significantly after being assuaged by a personal conversation. Vital signs and problems can be addressed on an individual basis instead of a sweeping diagnosis, leading to more optimal outcomes. Like having a meal made especially for you, the level of care and concern that an individual human being can provide at such a crucial time in someone's life is almost immeasurable in quality.
Finally, holistic care hospice is not only great for those being cared for but also for society at large. Hospice providers who witness the tender and vulnerable moments of once-vital people at the natural end of life get a more complete understanding of the human life cycle. Individual providers often report a great sense of personal satisfaction, accomplishment, and pride in helping aging people navigate an uncertain time. It shouldn't be hard to figure out why, if one stops to dwell on the subject. Hospice nurses, volunteers, and providers are taking a precarious situation, managing it, and living out the golden rule: "Do unto others what you would have done unto you."
As society becomes more technological, data-driven, and faster than ever before, we may start to realize that human-centered activities are what we gravitate toward for the important things. Not because we're old-fashioned or long for "the good old days," but because we associate humans with higher quality and personalized service, a specialty unto itself.
Perhaps this will create a new paradigm not just in nonprofit hospice care or those providing holistic care hospice, but in all forms of health assistance: caring for the whole truly means starting at the soul.