As we age, we will unavoidably experience the loss of people we are close to; friends; family members. Sometimes we put off thinking about and preparing for the death of a loved one as if to prepare for the inevitable event might hasten it. We hear the words “hospice care” and we want to shut it out. Our fear of morbidity may prevent us from being present and in the moment with our loved one.
The saddest thing is to allow fear of death to disturb the quality of life.
Hospice is more about the quality of life than it is about death. End of life care is an important part of long-term care.
There are a few things that you should not be worried about when it comes to hospice care.
- It doesn’t mean you’ve given up. It means you’ve made a choice for your loved one to have as little pain and as much comfort as possible in their final days.
- Hospice is not a place you go to die. In fact, it’s not a place at all. Hospice is a philosophy of caring; it is something you receive.
- Hospice care is covered by insurance. You continue to have medical coverage even though the focus has shifted from cure to comfort.
- Hospice provides medical and spiritual support to patients and families of those with a life-limiting illness.
- Hospice care can be provided in the home, a hospice facility, nursing home, or assisted living facility.
- Research suggests that persons in hospice care may live 29 to 60 days longer than without it.
Here are a few ways that you can contribute to the comfort of your loved one while remaining present with them.
- Provide hand massages and apply lotion to drying skin and balm to lips
- Play their favorite music softly in the background
- Share your favorite stories about your times with them; don’t be afraid to laugh at the good times
- Provide a blanket or cover appropriate to the temperature – keep texture in mind, be sure it is of a soft, soothing texture.
- And don’t underestimate the power of silence, just sit and be with them.
“What I saw happen with the hospice care folks encouraged me and encouraged Don to reminisce a great deal, and to talk about the life that he had lived, the life that I was yet to live, and there was always a sense of celebration in that-it was the craziest thing.” (From Beresford, The Hospice Handbook, pp. 107-108.)
Articles referred to in writing this blog:
Four things you should know about hospice
Ten facts about hospice care you may not know
National Institute on Aging: Providing Comfort at the End of Life