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Taipei City Hospital

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Wisdom of death: to learn the knowledge of death with warmth

       What is the “Wisdom of death”? Dr. Yi-Ling Sheng from Family Medicine Department of Taipei City Hospital Yang-Ming Branch explained that, in comparison to the more well-known “Wisdom of health”, meaning an individual acquired, managed and understand the basic health information and services, which subsequently make choices regarding health, the concept of “Wisdom of death” is very similar, extending the idea towards the last moments of one’s life prior to death. It is the wisdom of execution, acquisition and understanding and of knowledge and ability of utilizing the information related to “terminal and pre-dying care”. Compared to the “Wisdom of health”, the “Wisdom of death” focuses on communication over the application of seeking medical care and health promotion, chronic disease management care, allowing the patient to be provided with the right abilities of resource management. The “Wisdom of death” scope of practice is built upon learning through experience.4 areas covered in the “Wisdom of death”:                                                    

  1. Death related knowledge: this not only focuses on the pre-dying symptoms and signs, but also on the preparation after one’s death and decision making under limited health resources.                                                                                               
  2. Technique: Apart from the ability of the health team in managing pre-dying patient, additionally, including shared family decision making, seek support from other relatives, social communication skills and others.                                                      
  3. Learn from experience: Everyone must have participated in someone’s death experience, or have looked after terminal family members or patients. People accumulate knowledge on life education through actual participation.                              
  4. Social action: Once a person acquires the experience of participating and accompanying terminal patients, they may become a key person and asset for the local community for providing or sharing such wisdom.                                

       Dr. Yi-Ling Sheng mentioned, although the Asian community talks about “taking care of life’s end”, due to the easily accessible medical resources, many resources are wasted on what we so called “invalid treatment”, and forgetting the ancestors’ knowledge of dying in your own home or terminal care. She is hoping to raise awareness of the public members to value the issue of life and death through an all-level approach.