Hospice is an approach to caring for an individual who is only expected to live for six months or less. Patients are generally referred to hospice when conventional treatment is not expected to improve their outcome. Instead of treating the underlying cause of illness, hospice care is intended to reduce pain and improve quality of life.
If your family is of the Jewish faith, you might be wondering how hospice care is viewed within your religion and if Jewish hospice in NJ differs from traditional hospice. To answer this question, let’s review end-of-life care in the Jewish tradition.
When Prolonging Life is No Longer the “Best” Option
In Jewish tradition, it’s expected that every effort will be made to sustain and extend life. A person is allowed to refuse treatment if illnesses cannot be cured. The decision to accept hospice care is a personal one. Because of this, individuals and their families often find comfort in looking to their faith for answers.
Hospice is Not Giving Up
Some people think that the term “hospice” is synonymous with giving up, which contradicts the Jewish belief of preserving life. However, hospice care in NJ is far from giving up. Numerous studies show that patients who opt for hospice treatment often live longer than those who receive aggressive medical treatment.
Moreover, hospice nurses urge all patients and their families to discuss end-of-life matters before these decisions need to be made. This can be done with a rabbinic advisor to ensure that all decisions are made in accordance with the Jewish faith. You also have the option to work specifically with a Jewish hospice program to make certain that Jewish traditions and customs are followed.
How Jewish Hospice May Differ
If you choose a Jewish hospice program, you can expect a few subtle differences compared to traditional palliative care in NJ. For example:
● You cannot be deprived of food, water or oxygen. According to Jewish law, a person cannot be deprived of the basic elements of life, even if they are artificially provided. This means that IV fluids and hydration may be given until the end, though there are exceptions to the rule.
● Full disclosure. Jewish law feels it’s best that the patient does not know the full extent of their condition. The reason for this is out of respect for the patient and their will to live. Again, there are exceptions to the rule, but a Jewish hospice program can transition a patient to hospice without them knowing of their full diagnosis.
If your family is Jewish and you want to honor the tradition, Jewish hospice can provide you with the support and guidance you need during a difficult time. Contact VNA Health Group to learn more about our Jewish hospice program in NJ.