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Q. What are End of Life and End of Life Care?

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Updated: November 5, 2006

A. End of Life is considered to be the period of time marked by disability or disease that is progressively worse until death.

It is also considered to be the final stage of the journey of life.

Defining End of Life
The evidence does not support a precise definition of the interval referred to as end of life or its transitions. In 2004, the National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science issues as part of their Conference Statement a comment on the definition of end of life:

There is no exact definition of end of life; however, research supports the following components:

    1. The presence of a chronic disease(s) or symptoms or functional impairments that persist but may also fluctuate; and
    2. The symptoms or impairments resulting from the underlying irreversible disease that require formal either paid, professional or informal unpaid or volunteer care and can lead to death.

End of Life Care
End of Life Care is the care provided to a person in their final stages of life. Also known as hospice care, comfort care, supportive care, palliative care or symptom management.

Source:
National Institutes of Health. National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science Conference: Statement on Improving End-of-Life Care. 6-8 December 2004. 4 November 2006. <http://consensus.nih.gov/2004/2004EndOfLifeCareSOS024html.htm>

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