How does a person’s cultural values affect their End-of-Life process? We found a story that puts human faces to the issue of how we treat ethnic elders in our nation.
The way certain cultures view End-of-Life can influence, “whether a patient asks to die at home or in the hospital, whether an individual will make decisions alone or will involve family, and whether they will accept hospice or fight until the final breath,” writes Connie Cone Sexton.
Her story follows Louis Amiotte, a Native American who endured a case of double pneumonia two months after he was diagnosed with liver cancer. The illness led him to have nightmares and visions. Amiotte was thankful his caregivers understood that for many Lakotas, having visions was a way of life.
When it comes to the African-American community, many “handle End-of-Life issues by gathering around loved ones in the hospital and praying for a miracle,” says George Vinson, an African-American who saw his sister-in-law pass away.
“We all realize we’re going to die but when it comes to giving up on our loved ones, our faith is so strong it says all things are possible… We don’t give up.” Vinson said.
Hospice patient Enrique Salcedo thinks many Latinos prefer to pass away at home. “My ancestors didn’t go to the hospital,” said Salcedo. “Your friends and family and the doctor would come see you. There would be lots of people outside in chairs, benches, lining the street. And they would wait.”
When confronted with End-of-Life issues, Amiotte, Salcedo and the Vinson family were fortunate to be able to work with healthcare professionals who respected their wishes and honored their preferences.
Teresa Martinez, a hospice chaplain, says a part of her job is to encourage her patients and families to talk about the rituals they value. “We want to know what will bring them comfort and then see if we can provide those services.”
Read the story here.