Considering Hospice Care

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out

what you hope for. And the most you can do is live

inside that hope.” (Barbara Kingsolver)

Jan had always wanted to drive to Prince Edward Island, but it is a trip that she never had the opportunity to take. She always imagined she would find time someday, but then her health started to fail, and Jan learned that the end of her life was near.

Jan fantasized about the trip she had long dreamed of taking. With the help of her hospice nurse and her home health aide, she was able to look at tourist brochures, maps, guide books, and restaurant reviews.  She was planning a dream vacation with the awareness that it was a trip that could only be traveled in her imagination. This not only gave Jan hope by giving her something to look forward to in the ways that she could, it was a comfort for her family to see her relive past travels and imagine this new one.

Hope, the feeling that things wanted can be had, or that events will turn out for the best, is at the heart of hospice care. Hope is an essential part of the hospice experience, as patients are able to be free from pain, to complete important personal tasks, and to be supported in personal choices and wishes.  The goals of hope may differ from family to family, but there can always be opportunities for reunion, reminiscence and peace.

Adam was a professor of horticulture and had an incredibly beautiful garden around his home.  He died peacefully at home with his wife and two young daughters by his side.  While they were waiting for the funeral home to arrive, the girls asked the hospice nurse if they could go outside to gather some flowers for their father.  The hospice nurse agreed that would be a lovely idea, and then stepped away to make a few phone calls.  When she returned, the room was absolutely filled with beautiful flowers of every type and color.  Adam’s daughters were able to send him off surrounded with their love in a very special way.  They were a close family, and spoke openly of their love for one another.  They were able to prepare for his death and allow Adam to die in his own home surrounded by his beautiful family and his beautiful gardens.

Hospice offers compassionate and dignified care for a patient and their loved ones during a life limiting illness. The hospice team provides care that enhances the quality of life, through symptom management, pain relief, and attention to social, spiritual, religious and emotional needs.  A primary goal is always to respect the decisions that each individual makes in regards to their own end of life journey.  With a skilled and caring team of nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides and volunteers, hospice offers a range of ways to meet the individual needs and hopes of those in our care.

For Jan that meant an imaginary trip to a place that she had always wanted to go to.  For Adam, he was given the gift of ending his journey at home with everyone he loved.

Special Thanks to Odyssey/VistaCare, one of the nation’s premier hospice groups, for providing this article.

Photo Credit.

4 Comments:

  1. Cheryl Eckl said on October 28, 2010 at 2:19 pm ... #

    When my husband Stephen was making his transition from cancer, we had hospice care during his final two months. What a godsend these people are. They trained me so I could care for him. That made it possible for us to be together every step of the way. It was a beautiful passing because we had support and that gave us confidence we could do it.

    Cheryl Eckl is the author of the new book A Beautiful Death: Facing the Future with Peace

  2. Karen Brady said on November 5, 2010 at 7:15 pm ... #

    Hospice is a gift. I haven’t any idea why so many people are afraid of it or think “ITS the END” when Hospice is called. It helps everyone from the patient to the family. I think its the only dignified treatment there is. Many people want to be in their own home and with hospice that is allowed. Why should you be somewhere so foreign when you feel so bad..Thank god for hospice and the hospice nurses !

  3. Alisha said on January 19, 2011 at 11:32 am ... #

    My grandfather, aunt, and mother were all fortunate to have Hospice care as they ended their battles with cancer. A dear friend of mine is now also receiving hospice care, and I am amazed all over again by the compassion and dedication of the entire Hospice team. They perform difficult jobs with such grace and care, and I’m so happy to know they are there when people need them.

  4. kerry neuberger said on March 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm ... #

    When my husband ran out of treatment options to keep his Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at bay, after 13 years of battling it, we were at the end. I can’t think of what his last month would have been like w/out the Hospice nurses and social workers. They made it possible for him to continue to be active and involved with life.

    Making the decision that is was time to go into Hospice at the very end was hard, but they helped not only keep my husband comfortable in not in pain, but the dr spent time with our sons ages 14 & 10 – she was amazing as not only was the situation difficult for the boys, it was also 2 days before Christmas.

    Even now, we are not on our own the Hospice grief counselors are still involved with our family, offering -never pushing their support in any way that is needed.

    I’m so thankful, I don’t even want to think of what the experience would have been like for all of us without this wonderful group of people.

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