November is National Hospice Month

My parents had to be coerced into accepting hospice care during the last months of Dad’s illness. My father especially was not receptive and only agreed to try hospice for Mom’s sake.

“We’ll give it a week,” he told his nurse, Ann, who had to enter into intensive negoations with him to be allowed to come for more than a weekly check of his vitals.

In the end, both my parents were pleased with the level of care and compassion. Charming rascal that he was, Dad had the nurses and aides wrapped around his little finger and even tried to convert the organizations minister, Rev. Melissa, to Catholicism during his short time in their care.

Like most families, my parents waited far too long to call in hospice. They believed, falsely, that palliative care is for the bitter end – the last days or hours – and not something that is meant to ease the transition for patient and families and can be sought up to six months or more of a projected end.

Hospice is not about death. It is about living well in the end times.

My first husband was in hospice the last three months of his life. Many people can spend up to the last year or more in hospice care, depending on their illness. Hospice is about symptom management but it is also about spiritual and emotional care. I can’t say enough good things about the people who dedicate their time and talent to hospice or about how important an organization this is, especially in the current mind-set that exhorts people to live as long as they can without quality.

5 thoughts on “November is National Hospice Month

  1. My mom could probably use home hospice care but we can’t afford it so my 50-year old divorced brother recently moved in with her. He said he couldn’t stand the thought of coming over one day and finding her lying at the bottom of a staircase.

  2. Amen to this post. My beloved (and only) uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on his 65th birthday last year. He died within three months, but that painful time was made so much easier at home with hospice. I don’t know what my family would have done without them.

  3. good that your parents allowed it at all… i have seen that “transition assistance” bit at work, and it’s beautiful.

    Dad wanted to die at home, but for many (unsound) reasons, Mom wouldn’t allow health care workers into the home. Among other things, she believed that before you could get hospice care, you had to sign over all your assets… but we didn’t find this out until after Dad died. So Dad suffered unnecessarily because Mom was afraid she’d lose her house – and refused to let me even talk to people at hospice… and get the facts (sigh).

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