Embracing the natural stages of the dying process through hospice care
By Lauren Glendenning
When patients need hospice care, family members and other loved ones often feel overwhelmed with emotion. A caring and supportive hospice team can help alleviate some of these feelings.
We asked Kristine Cooper, executive director of Home Health and Hospice at Memorial Regional Health, to help readers understand more about hospice care at MRH and how it affects patients’ families.
What are some ways that hospice care can relieve stress for those who may be in charge of an elderly loved one?
Kristine Cooper: Hospice really provides support not only to the patient but also to the caregivers. We have nurses that spend time with caregivers, educating them about the disease and dying process. We also have our LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) who spends time with the patient and caregivers, discussing end-of-life planning. She also works with caregivers and families to address anticipatory grief.
Are there any myths about hospice care you’d like to clarify?
One myth would be that hospice hastens death. Hospice really embraces the natural stages of the dying process and neither intends to hasten or prolong death. Our team partners with the patient and family on the journey. Another myth is that hospice is expensive. Medicare actually covers the cost of hospice, including medications to treat symptoms related to the patient’s terminal diagnosis as well equipment needed to care for the patient safely in their home.
Why is it important for families to know about hospice care?
Hospice is not about giving up hope, it’s about refocusing hope. With hospice, there is hope that pain and other symptoms can be managed so that loved ones can live their best life in their final days. Hospice also offers hope to families and caregivers by providing support during this difficult time.
When is hospice care is necessary?
Hospice is here for patients who have been diagnosed with a life limiting or terminal illness with a life expectancy of 6 months or less to live.
What kind of care do hospice patients receive?
Hospice provides nursing, emotional and spiritual support. Hospice can also provide support from physical, occupational and speech therapy with the focus of helping patients move safely. We also have volunteers that can provide companionship and assist with light housekeeping and cooking. All these different services make up the patient’s care team that works closely with their doctor. The overarching theme about hospice is that it is really about what the patient or family needs.
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