Hospice care: Know your options


It’s hard to know what the future can hold, and when life’s path takes a difficult turn, it’s important to realize you are not alone. Your family is not alone.

Hospice and palliative care is designed to help patients focus on the quality of life, ease their pain and live every day to the fullest, no matter the age or ailment. Hospice care is meant to assist individuals and their families who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have six months or less to live. Quite often, hospice services aren’t contacted until the patient has just a few weeks or days left. Hospice-care professionals can assist in easing the pain and suffering of a terminally ill individual, as well as benefitting the patient’s family and loved ones.

  • Care is delivered by an interdisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurses, social workers, therapist, counselors, health aides and spiritual-care providers all working collaboratively to make their patient’s wishes are a priority.
  • Advance-care planning helps patients and families with tough decisions about health care that shouldn’t have to be made alone.
  • Cumulative care through pain management, symptom control, caregiver training and emotional and spiritual support for both the patient and surrounding loved ones is all part of a hospice plan, allowing patients to focus on living. Centers will also often have volunteers that can meet different needs like sitting with your loved one, reading, running errands, even massage and/or music therapy.
  • Unlike many programs out there, hospice isn’t a place. It’s a service that can take place anywhere. Patients can be cared for at their homes, hospitals, nursing-care facilities or transported to a hospice center. Hospice programs try to find what is right for the patient and the family from the beginning.

Nationwide, November is Hospice Awareness Month, and the whole idea is to know your options. There’s isn’t just one correct treatment plan to manage a complex medical disease, there are many. Patients have different ideas on what constitutes quality of life and these will direct their medical goals of care and influence what kind of medical treatment they pursue. This month, make an effort to learn about options for care, like hospice for example, before you or someone in your family is faced with a health care crisis. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, or NHPCO, has developed an online interactive tool to help direct people and determine their care path.  

In honor of National Hospice Awareness Month, NHPCO is coordinating a social media push on Nov. 4, 2016. Through photos and words, they will raise hospice awareness. They are seeking individuals across the country to post photos on that day and use the hashtags #hospiceawareness #hospicemonth and #hpm. The photo should describe what hospice means to you. NHPCO plans to track and share posts via their Facebook and Twitter throughout the day.

Learn more here and browse through examples from last year’s album at this link.

Stories showing how hospice makes special moments possible can be found at momentsoflife.org.

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