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Dying at home rather than in hospital, elderly Japanese 'go to the afterlife quietly'

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Dying at home rather than in hospital, elderly Japanese 'go to the afterlife quietly'

By Megumi Lim and Kim Kyung-Hoon

 

2017-11-21T003650Z_2_LYNXMPEDAJ1QF_RTROPTP_4_JAPAN-HOMEDYING.JPG

 

TOKYO (Reuters) - After he was diagnosed with leukaemia in July, Katsuo Saito decided not to treat it and opted for palliative care. He had a hard time finding a bed at a hospice or hospital, so he spent most of his remaining weeks at home.

 

"There are about 20 people on the waiting lists," Saito, 89, told Reuters from his fifth-floor apartment in Tokyo where he lived alone.

 

Many Japanese are reluctant to die at home because they feel hospitals are safer and they don't want to burden family members with caring for them.

 

But dying at home may prove an acceptable option as hospital beds become ever scarcer in an ageing society where one in four are over 65 and health officials predict a shortfall of more than 470,000 hospital beds by 2030.

 

"I think it's good to have a doctor supporting people who choose to spend their final days, and naturally face death, in a place they spent their days living," said physician Yuu Yasui.

 

Yasui, who works at the Yamato Clinic, which has overseen more than 500 home deaths since 2013, hopes to offer hospice care at home for more of the terminally ill.

 

Mitsuru Niinuma, 69, chose to stay at home in order to spend more time with his grandson and his beloved dachshund, Rin.

 

"Home care allows people to use their abilities to their fullest for as long as possible," he said. "That's not so easy in a hospital. This aspect is really nice."

 

(Link to picture essay: http://reut.rs/2zQ7OhQ)

 

RISING COSTS

 

Rising health care costs as the population ages have fuelled apprehension that Japan will eventually cap the number of hospital beds, although a health ministry official who declined to be identified called that scenario unlikely.

 

The bed shortage stems partly from long hospital stays, which ran 16.5 days on average in 2015, versus six days in Britain, a study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) showed.

 

More than 80 percent of Japanese prefer to die in hospital, the highest figure among 35 nations surveyed by the OECD.

 

Leukaemia patient Saito finally found a hospice spot in September. Two days after he moved in, he died.

 

National insurance provides individual hospital rooms only in exceptional circumstances, so they are out of reach for those like pensioner Yasuhiro Sato, 75, a victim of terminal lung cancer.

 

"Somebody rich, like a politician or a singer, they solve everything through money. They can stay in private rooms," Sato said in an interview at his Tokyo apartment in July.

 

With no close family or friends, he lived a solitary life, except for caregivers' visits. When Sato died on Sept. 13, the only other people in his apartment were doctors, aides and undertakers.

 

"It's okay. I'm not a burden to anybody," he said. "I will go to the afterlife quietly. Alone."

 

(Reporting by Megumi Lim and Kim Kyung-Hoon; Writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by Malcolm Foster and Clarence Fernandez)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2017-11-21
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But unlike Thailand, in Japan, people at home can receive palliative care, i.e.  morphine.  
In Thailand?  Evil, evil, evil drug.  Only for administration in hospitals and restricted at that.   So, here in the Land of Screams, if you wish to die pain free, you opt for a hospital, and then still, you'll probably only be given enough of the evil drug to keep you from keeping the rest of the patients awake.  Compassionate Thailand as compared to their other Asian neighbors.  Big difference.

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Many Japanese are reluctant to die at home because they feel hospitals are safer

 

Seems kinda weird to think about safety when you are on your last legs.

 

The Japanese have developed a cruel form of prolonging life. There are around 300,000 dementia and terminally ill patients fed through tubes, prolonging their existence by a couple of years. Totally bedridden and with no hope of coming off the tubes, they are often heavily sedated.

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7 minutes ago, 12DrinkMore said:

Seems kinda weird to think about safety when you are on your last legs.

 

The Japanese have developed a cruel form of prolonging life. There are around 300,000 dementia and terminally ill patients fed through tubes, prolonging their existence by a couple of years. Totally bedridden and with no hope of coming off the tubes, they are often heavily sedated.

My wife will surreptitiously finish me off if it comes to that with my blessing.

 

12DrinkMore - this isn't exclusively reserved for the Japanese.  The UK is no better, hence the frequent trips to Dignitas.

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This sounds like a great idea to me. After all the main reason that hospitals keep you alive through thick and thin is because they make a LOT of money.

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1 hour ago, rodney earl said:

This sounds like a great idea to me. After all the main reason that hospitals keep you alive through thick and thin is because they make a LOT of money.

I read that 75% of the Aussie health care budget is spent on people in the last three months of their lives. 

Crazy. 

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17 minutes ago, tryasimight said:

I read that 75% of the Aussie health care budget is spent on people in the last three months of their lives. 

Crazy. 

I have doubt about the truthfulness of what you read. In Canada people over 65 account for 45% of the yearly health care costs. I believe our countries are probably equal in healthcare costs and life expectancy.

Healthcare costs on average under $5000 per year per person. The average person aged 1 to 59  spend less, while when you reach 60 costs rise and continue to an average of $30,000 per year by age 90. Fortunately  only about 12% of the population lives that long.  The most expensive year before you reach 60 is the first year of life with an average healthcare cost of $!0,000.

 

www.fraserinstitute.org/sites/default/files/sustainability-of-health-care-spending-in-canada-2017.pdf

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2 hours ago, tryasimight said:

I read that 75% of the Aussie health care budget is spent on people in the last three months of their lives. 

Crazy. 

I read that 95% of statistics are made up, and the other 53.567% are outright lies.

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With untreatable infections becoming more numerous, I'd want to stay as far away from emergency rooms and hospitals as possible.   Especially as a geriatric with diminished auto-immune.

 

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1 minute ago, Opl said:

suffering is useless

But sometimes unavoidable.  I presume you're referring to assisted suicide as a personal solution, but not all "suffering" is of a terminal nature, even for the aged.  I had sciatica years back, and I can tell you I definitely "suffered" from it, for a couple of weeks, but ending my life was obviously not an option.  So I don't really get the statement, "suffering is useless".  Evolutionarily speaking, pain DOES serve a purpose.

 

Terminal geriatric cases, such as in the article?  If what you're getting at is the 75% of the Australian health care budget, etc., I'm certainly not ready to implement Obama's national healthcare death committees IOT conserve resources and "put old people out of their misery".  I AM in favor of living wills and do-not-resuscitate/no-extraordinary-care type final instructions prepared by the individual concerned while still in good health and before-the-fact.

 

I also think that denying marijuana to someone who believes it will relieve or mitigate their pain is downright inhumane.  Unfortunately, street-variety dopeheads will abuse that, so a medical consult is necessary.  Denying ANY effective pain relief solution, no matter how addicting, to a dying patient requesting it is beyond inhumane; it's barbaric.

 

 

 

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BANGKOK 17 December 2017 17:09
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