The Elderly, Healthcare and Hospice
In the recent years, the elderly population has portrayed an increasing trend in the developed and developing nations. Several factors have led to this increment. Scientific and technological advancements have played a pivotal role in the development of medicine necessary in curbing the spread of fatal communicable as well as parasitic diseases reducing the number of deaths. Additionally there has been a decline in infant and maternal mortality in most populations. In work places, technology has enhanced the development of occupational safety measures reducing the number of deaths caused by accidents at work place. The improvement of nutrition as well as education has enlightened people on the basic aspects necessary for prolonging one’s life even to individuals that might be battling with various diseases such as diabetes. The increasing trend of the elderly population raises some concerns in the society.
One of the major concerns is the increased straining of the healthcare sector. Most of the elderly people often develop some health concerns such as cancer, frailty, cerebral as well as cardiovascular diseases that require proper medical attention. Owing to the fact that the healthcare system in the US is facing an acute shortage of nursing practitioners, the available nurses tend to be overworked to meet the healthcare needs of the elderly. On the other hand, the social security programs such as Medicare also face challenges as far as their maintenance is concerned. For instance, they may end up facing cuts in benefits, massive borrowing, late retirement ages as well as tax increments.
Families of the elderly or other people with terminal illness have a difficult time choosing hospice. The person(s) in need of the care may not understand the reason why their family members would want to let other people (hospice staff) look after them. It is hard for the family members to explain why hospice is the best choice for their care. In some cases, it may lead to the development of a sour relationship between the elderly and the other family members, which they have to cope with.
A human service worker working in hospice might face some ethical dilemmas as he/she interacts with the patient’s community as well as in dealing with the specific needs of a given patient. They include considering suicide (assisted suicide and euthanasia), removing the patient’s life support system and dealing with patients who have been admitted with a do not resuscitate order (Jennings, 1997, p.61). The patient may sexually assault some hospice staff members. Additionally, the staff members may be required to move to a dangerous/unsafe neighborhood to offer homecare to a patient.
Jennings, B. (1997). Ethics in Hospice Care: Challenges to Hospice Values in a Changing
Healthcare Environment. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.