The word "namaste" comes from two Sanskrit words and can be literally translated as "I bow to you."  It may be used in writing or accompanied by a specific hand gesture that conveys both respect as well as the greeting.  It is a form of greeting or valediction which originated from the Indian subcontinent at least 4,000 years ago.  Unlike other forms of greeting such as the handshake or a hug, the namaste is done without physical contact.

The word has been used since 2003 as the name for a program which aims to provide soothing care to late stage dementia patients approaching the end of their lives.  The program advocates that patients are brought into a designated space, a Namaste Room, where they receive the specialized care of the program which involves sensory activities such as  massage, aromas and quiet and calming music or nature sounds.  Attention is paid to preserve the comfort and dignity of the patient receiving the care.  Unlike the salutation after with it is named, the Namaste Care Program, does involve physical contact.

The program was started here in the US.  It has spread abroad and can be found in Australia and the United Kingdom.  It has also been broadened to provide the same palliative care for patients facing the end of their lives due to other diseases such as cancer.


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