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  • Introduction
  • 1. Advance Care Planning
  • 2. Communicating Bad News
  • 3. Whole Patient Assessment
  • 4. Pain Management
  • 5. Assisted Suicide Debate
  • 6. Anxiety, Delirium
  • 7. Goals of Care
  • 8. Sudden Illness
  • 9. Medical Futility
  • 10. Common Symptoms
  • 11. Withholding Treatment
  • 12. Last Hours of Living
  • 13. Cultural Issues
  • 14. Religion, Spirituality
  • 15. Legal Issues
  • 16. Social and Psychological
  • More About:

  • Hospice Care
  • Clergy and Faith Communities
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    Site Index
    Back to Module 12: Last Hours of Living
    Significance of the Last Hours of Living

    Significance of the Last Hours of Living

    • Every one of us will die
      • A few of us (<10%) will die suddenly

      • Most of us (>90%) will die after a long period of illness with gradual deterioration until an active dying phase at the end
    • The last hours of our lives may be some of our most significant. They provide the last opportunity to:
      • Finish our business
      • Create final memories
      • Give final gifts
      • Find spiritual peace
      • Say good-bye
    • Those who provide care have one opportunity to get it right. There is no second chance
      • If managed well, the last hours can lead to significant personal and family growth

      • If managed poorly

        • Life closure may be incomplete
        • Suffering may occur unnecessarily
        • Family distress may continue long after the patient’s death
        • Those who watch may worry that their death will be similar
    • Experience with the dying process or death is uncommon
      • While many professionals have seen a dead body, lay people rarely have

      • Most of us have neither watched someone die nor provided care during the last hours of life

      • Based on media dramatization and our vivid imaginations, most people have developed an exaggerated sense of what dying and death are like

      • However, with appropriate management, it is possible to provide smooth passage and comfort for the patient and all onlookers
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