Crow Wing Energized: November is National Home Care & Hospice Month
Hospice is really a philosophy of care that gives those with advanced diseases extra care to make their final transition as more peaceful, comfortable, and dignified..
November is recognized as National Home Care and Hospice Month.
However, for many, hospice is a subject that’s hard to talk about. It can be especially hard during the holiday season when families spend more time together and a loved one’s declining health becomes more obvious. What many people don’t realize is that hospice can be a gift, not only for the patient, but their family, as well.
Patients, families, and even some health care providers are often uncomfortable discussing a person’s declining health and the prospect of starting hospice. Indeed, studies have shown that most people who would be eligible for hospice do not receive it, or start it much later than they could have, despite its many benefits and the fact that there is no cost to patient or family in most cases. Many times, we hear from families who say they wish they would have started hospice sooner.
People may avoid the subject of hospice, or decline to start it, for a variety of reasons. Some falsely feel that to go on hospice means giving up hope or the will to keep fighting. Sometimes the family members making the medical decisions don’t want to admit that their loved one is declining. Regardless, hospice can help relieve pain, and provide peace, dignity, comfort, as well as emotional, physical, and spiritual support for those on their final journey. Patients and families who come on to hospice care sooner often have better outcomes and less complicated grief.
There are other myths about hospice that need to be dispelled. Many think hospice is a specific building where people go to spend their final days. However, hospice is really a philosophy of care that gives those with advanced diseases extra care to make their final transition as more peaceful, comfortable, and dignified. And hospice can happen wherever the patient calls home, whether it’s in their own home, or an assisted living or skilled nursing home.
Family members caring for a struggling loved one may cope with a variety of emotional issues. They often can be stressed to a point of breaking. Having to constantly be nearby, guilt that they cannot be there 24/7, or the disbelief that a once vibrant loved one is no longer strong, can challenge a caregiver’s emotional health. Grief, guilt, and avoidance are all common issues. Patients often have stresses of their own. Guilt about needing to ask for help, confusion from memory issues, fear of the unknown can all play a part. Hospice can help ease the fear, loneliness, and anxiety of the patient, but also help alleviate or lessen some of the stress and guilt for the family.
Hospice agencies, like Heartland Hospice, employ a team care approach. Doctors, nurses, aides, social workers, spiritual coordinators, volunteers, massage therapists, dieticians, bereavement coordinators, and others all work hand-in-hand to provide well-being for not only the patient, but for the families as well. Families can be comforted by the fact that their loved ones are getting an extra level of care.
Social workers can help on the emotional side, helping patients and their family deal with issues like unresolved family dynamics, and also help navigate some of the county assistance and financial considerations. Spiritual counselors are available to help those who want spiritual guidance and resolution. Bereavement staff checks on the well-being of the family members, not just immediately after the process, but even 13 months after the passing of their loved one.
In the end, hospice can be a beautiful conclusion to the journey. The care given is extremely helpful for easing pain, anxiety, and maintaining dignity for those who need it. It’s important to remember that starting hospice does not mean you have given up hope for a recovery, as people can improve or “graduate” from hospice.
If you or someone you know have questions, consultations are always available to determine a person’s eligibility or answer questions.