The Blessing Known As Hospice
The Blessing Known as Hospice
Recently one of my clients lost a spouse after a long bout with Alzheimer's and other afflictions. In discussing her loss, she was overcome with emotion. She spoke of how incredible hospice personnel had been not only in caring for her spouse but in caring for her.
A terminal illness diagnosis is life changing for all involved. In the blink of an eye, other concerns pale to the crippling news that a loved one may not be around much longer. For those of you who have shared this experience, you can instantly recall the immediate rush of thoughts and feelings that went through your mind and heart on how to best handle the time that was left.
I distinctly recall this moment regarding my mother. My sister and I looked at each other and tried to figure out what to do for our mother in her remaining time. Our father was inconsolable once his shock wore off. Fortunately, we were blessed to have some incredible friends helping us in many ways. And thanks to hospice, my family was not left alone to face the new reality that had now become all too real.
So what is hospice? In general, hospices are state licensed entities that provide services in a patient’s residence or in a hospice facility for patients with a diagnosis of terminal illness. They provide a coordinated program of professional services, including pain management and counseling for patients; nursing, physician, therapy, and social work services; counseling and support for family members and friends of the patient; and other support services.
However, that description does not give hospice justice as it’s the individual acts that tell the true story. Hospice may give the family the strength to plan for the loved one’s last birthday party. The use of pet therapy often brings smiles and wellness to many. Perhaps, it’s the time taken to have clowns visit and entertain the children and grandchildren of an ailing loved one. It may very well come in the form of a loving nurse who is willing to share the gift of his or her strength so that a patient and the family can have the invaluable comfort and peace that this someone will always be at his or her side.
The best part about hospice may be that it is there for all of us in a couple meaningful ways. First, hospice does not close its doors to people who need their services yet have an inability to pay. To the contrary, such people are treated with as much care and skill as the insured person in the next bed. Second, hospice is not just for the terminally ill patient but is truly there for the family and friends of the patient as well. In fact, even after the passing of the patient, hospice services continue in the form of grief counseling and support.
I often encourage families to be proactive in requesting hospice services. Often the medical world is so focused on remedying the medical condition that the quality of life aspects may be overlooked. So don’t be shy about asking for this kind of help. After all, hospice may very well be one of the best kept secrets in health care.