National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
The hospice care that people expect — and sign up for — sometimes disappears when they need it most.
I met Brenda when she decided to seek hospice care. In addition to kidney failure, she had numerous ailments including painful, golf-ball-sized sores throughout her body.
Letting go can be hard at any age. Most people don't want the end to come a minute earlier than it must. Also, family members are often reluctant to relinquish a loved one, even when there is suffering and no reasonable hope for recovery.
Palliative care, while a specialty, lies at the heart of what every health care provider does -- whether nurse, physician, social worker, chaplain or psychologist -- because no matter the dazzle of technologies that extends life, our core focus can and should remain: Cure sometimes, relieve often, comfort always.
Often a neutral outsider such as a member of a palliative care or hospice team can encourage and facilitate difficult conversation by offering guidance through what can be a frightening process. Even when the news is bad, overwhelmed patients and families often feel relief and gratitude.
Despite continuing advances in pain and symptom management, many Americans still die in pain. Patients in hospitals often report moderate to severe pain before dying, while patients receiving hospice care typically report excellent pain and symptom management.
Here are five of the messages conveyed by the Moments of Life campaign that shatter the most common misperceptions about hospice care:
Music can help focus your attention, even in painful circumstances. It can, in situations like Lora's, help make positive memories of the time you have left with a loved one and help soothe the situation, for both present and future, with dignity, peace, and warmth.
Be supportive of the way the person chooses to handle the holidays. Some may wish to follow traditions; others may choose to avoid customs of the past and do something new. It's okay to do things differently.
Hospice care can be a valuable and comforting service for both patients and their loved ones.