1. You don’t have to be actively dying to be on Hospice care. You can receive Hospice care for months as long as your doctor certifies, that in their medical estimate, you have six months or less to live. You can do a lot of living in six months and the Hospice team can help you LIVE the best you can in those months.
2. Our health care system treats diseases. The emphasis is on pathology that occurs within the physical body. Hospice care concentrates on people, the patient AND THEIR FAMILY. In addition to medical expertise hospice care is support, guidance, and education.
3. There is a team (nurse, nurses aid, social worker, chaplain) that will be with you and your family through this experience. You are not alone when you have hospice.
4. Hospice professionals are experts in pain management. There is a difference between caring for people that have end of life comfort issues and caring for people who have long term illnesses.
5. Most people come onto the hospice program too late to fully benefit from the guidance and support that is available. The patient who is actively dying is withdrawn and sleeping most of the time, not interacting.
Other than comfort measures there isn’t much to help the patient. There is a lot of help for the family, generally because they were unaware that death is eminent. With earlier referrals the hospice staff can assist the patient as well as the family in dealing with end of life challenges.
About Barbara Karnes, RN
Barbara Karnes, RN, is an internationally respected speaker, educator, author, and thought leader on matters of end of life. She is a renowned authority to explain the dying process to families, healthcare professionals, and the community at large.