People’s experiences of death and dying are profoundly affected by social and cultural differences.
Socio-economic factors such as standard of living, economic infrastructure, diet, environmental disasters, war, sexual pervasiveness, disease etc all interconnect to affect the way in which they frame an individual’s experience of death and dying. The unequal distribution of resource throughout the world and the differing levels of food shortage, disease, war and natural disasters need to be taken into account when considering how health care workers can improve the needs of people who are dying.
Culture, identity and personal beliefs all have a profound impact on an individual’s choices in the context of the dying process. Ethnicity, cultural differences, religion, personal beliefs, individual preferences and choices etc can all affect care needs and social practice at the end of life. People’s experiences of illness and death, as well as beliefs about the appropriate role of healers, are profoundly influenced by patients' cultural background. As Britain becomes increasingly diverse, cultural difference is a central feature of many clinical interactions.
Death of the elderly
Social attitudes towards the elderly, particularly by younger people, can have a significant impact on older people’s end-of-life experience and the level and quality of care they receive. Help the Aged has suggested that categorising death due to ‘old age’ reveals how we tend to assume that these deaths are ‘timely’ or ‘natural’ and therefore less worthy of our time and concern (Block 1, Unit 4, page 117).
It is instructive to consider the impact of such views. If elderly people are seen by society as expected to die any time soon then they can be seen as less worthy and their quality of life less important. Resources tend to be directed towards younger people and society can view saving or prolonging the life of a younger person as more desirable than... [continues]
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