Hospice is a concept that promotes end of life planning. Addressing end of life issues, makes many individuals uncomfortable, depressed and can be very emotionally painful. End of life issues is something we all face in our lives. As we age, we begin to see those around us struggle with serious illness and become more aware of their mortality.
This kind of care is not just about dying. It is so much more. Hospice is about choosing how to live our life, through end of life planning. We all have different, personal perspectives about how we would prefer to die. Hospice allows the aging senior the ability to remain in their home, addressing individual and cultural preferences and assists in maintaining dignity at the end of life.
End of life planning includes preparing for a health care proxy/healthcare durable power of attorney, advanced directives and funeral arrangements. As we progress through the end stages of life, Hospice allows each individual to make treatment choices based on your values and beliefs. You can expect to participate in all medical decisions (unless you are cognitively impaired) and relief from any pain and suffering, as you determine is necessary.
Some individuals may choose to stay awake as they go through the dying process and refuse medications that may sedate them. Others are tired of the pain and suffering and find the dying process a relief from suffering.
End stages of life, also known as the dying process, should be planned for and addressed while you are still healthy. Using an advanced directive, such as FIVE WISHES, promotes a process of conversation, allowing you to address your personal care preferences.
Most advanced directives are just legal templates. They do not promote the importance of good communication between the aging senior, families and their health care providers. Good communication about end of life issues makes it easier for families and loved ones to know they are honoring your wishes in the manner you have expressed. End of life planning allows you to have say and to be in control of your life until the end stages of life.
Hospice provides end of life care in the home, for a few months, weeks or days. Hospice promotes the maintenance or improvement in the quality of life, instead of promoting how long one is going to live. As we go through the end stages of life, hospice promotes enriching the life of the aging senior and family with support, caring, peace and comfort.
As we go through the dying process, Hospice also supports the family. It is difficult for family members to care for their loved one when they are in pain or are suffering. Family members are given support they need at home. Hospice will also assist in getting volunteer support to assist as companions and visitors.
As we address end of life issues, Hospice assists in dealing with issues of grief and loss, before and after a loved one dies.
Hospice takes a team approach to addressing end of life issues. Along with the family and aging senior the team members include such health care professional as:
- Nurses to help with addressing the symptoms such as pain and to educate and support the family on the end stages of life.
- Home health care aides to assist the family in providing day to day personal care needs
- Social workers , to provide support, encouragement and guide the family to services that are available for emotional support and to listen to the family as they go through the grieving process
- Chaplains or priests, or religious clergy. To meet the spiritual needs of the aging senior and family
- Bereavement counselors provide psychological and emotional support to prepare for the family for the end stages of life.
- Doctors to monitor and alleviate the symptoms and assure that comfort is maintained
Hospice services are generally covered by Medicare and other insurances. There is certain criteria that must be met and a doctor’s order is required for insurance to cover.
Hospice addresses the end of life issues and assists families and their loved ones through a period of loss and grief. End of life planning allows the aging senior to have their final wishes known and honored by their family members. It is having the ability to have control until the end stages of life.