Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Hospice-But Were Afraid To Ask.
Though death and grief are natural and inevitable aspects of life, most of us tend to avoid even mentioning important end-of-life topics until absolutely necessary – typically when faced with the terminal illness, death or loss of someone we love. Consequently, hospice care remains shrouded in mystery until the time a family member or friend needs it.
It’s then we learn that when a cure is not possible, hospice offers terminally ill patients and their families holistic end-of-life care based on the principles of comfort, dignity, and choice. This support is offered wherever the patient lives, whether that’s a private residence, an assisted living community, or a skilled nursing facility. And it’s provided by an expert and compassionate care team—usually a hospice physician, nurse, nursing assistant, social worker, chaplain, and volunteers – who work to ensure that patients’ values and decisions are respected, their pain and symptoms are managed, and their spiritual and psychological needs are addressed.
Living life to the fullest
Unfortunately, many still believe that choosing hospice means giving up hope. But the truth is, hospice care not only improves quality of life, it also sometimes lengthens it. According to a study by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization among 4,493 terminally ill patients with congestive heart failure, or cancer of the breast, colon, lung, pancreas, or prostate, the mean survival rate was 29 days longer for hospice patients than for non-hospice patients.
Other aspects of hospice are misunderstood as well. For instance, hospice isn’t just for cancer patients on the brink of death. Hospices also care for patients with end-stage cardiac disease, dementia, debility, pulmonary disease, renal disease, neurological diseases, and stroke. In addition, hospice is a Medicare benefit, so most expenses related to the terminal diagnosis are covered in full -- including all medications and equipment -- as are visits from the hospice care team.
The good news? More people than ever are choosing hospice care at the end of life, and finding peace, comfort, and dignity—sometimes while living longer—as a result. The bad? Too many people still don’t realize what a positive difference this quality end-of-life care can make. But by spreading the word, hospice supporters can help to lay the many hospice myths to rest.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Mary Chokran.
Mary is a Director of Development & Communications with HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield Counties and may be reached at 303-604-5229 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit HospiceCare on the web at: www.hospicecareonline.org