National Hospice Month is November

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.