By Ken Russell
January 24, 2013
When people are faced with serious injury, a terminal illness or any condition requiring heroic measures to stay alive, such as feeding tubes or intubation, sometimes patients, or their families, choose the cessation, or avoidance, of hospital care.
For over 30 years, Bettina Desrochers has given end-of-life care and has attended hundreds of peaceful deaths of old and terminally ill patients. For seven years, she ran Elder House, a small hospice and respite care home out of her house.
These days she travels the country speaking on end-of-life issues and works as an end-of-life coach. Desrochers talked about the importance of deciding, before you get sick, what kind of treatment you want and of finding an alternative to dying in the hospital. Otherwise, you, or a loved one, can risk getting caught in the health care system, receiving unwanted procedures or being in an environment not of your choosing.
“Once you get stuck in the medical field, it’s really hard to get out,” said Desrochers. “It can be a real nightmare. There’s health care and then there’s dying. Sometimes dying has nothing to do with doctors and nothing to do with nurses. Your life is coming to an end. Just being able to go somewhere and die, just being allowed to die, not accepting medical care, making sure the folks around you know what you want and what you don’t want, and having good, honest conversations, long before you even think about being sick. Taking a look at your environment, taking a look at yourself—sometimes that’s the best thing.” More