The Hospice Movement

November 14, 1980

Report Outline
Treatment of Terminally Ill
Government's Role in Research
Movement's Future Direction
Special Focus

Treatment of Terminally Ill

New Interest in Alternative Approaches

Anyone who has witnessed the trauma of a loved one dying of cancer knows that it is one of life's most horrifying experiences. Cancer deaths can involve months of agonizing pain for the patient and frustration for the patient's family. Adding to the predicament is the fact that most cancer patients die in hospitals — institutions that many believe are better equipped to cure the sick than to treat the terminally ill.

In recent years, a growing number of cancer victims and their families have found comfort and support in the hospice movement, which is committed to helping terminally ill patients and their loved ones confront death calmly, with dignity and without pain. The movement's primary goal is to make the patient as comfortable as possible, physically and mentally, in a home-like environment. Every effort is made to ease the dying patient's discomfort through pain-killing drugs. When possible, patients are treated in their own homes. Hospice services also include bereavement counseling for the family after the patient's death.

“The hospice groups now springing up around the country are responding to one of the deepest needs in all of us — the need to feel that when our time to die comes, we will be able to do so in conditions that reduce the physical suffering and the spiritual anguish to the minimum,” Victor and Rosemary Zorza wrote in 1978. “In the hospice setting, the dying patient can even feel ‘happy’ at the way a previously dreaded experience turns out to hold no terror — as our own daughter told us she was happy when she was dying [of cancer] in a hospice last year.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Nov. 14, 1980  The Hospice Movement
Jan. 16, 1963  Problems of the Hospitals
Nov. 17, 1948  Financial Problems of Voluntary Hospitals
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