Those in need: "I wish I had called sooner'

December 22, 2011|Hospice Helps

Special to The Herald-Mail

More than 1.5 million Americans made a very difficult call last year, they called hospice for help in caring for a loved one who was very ill.  

Picking up the phone to make a call to hospice often feels like giving up or giving in.  However, a better way to look at making that difficult call is to focus on the quality of life from this moment on.  

Involving hospice brings relief to the caregiver who has been burdened with making all of the lonely decisions surrounding care. When the hospice team arrives, the family can now focus on enjoying the relationship with their loved one once again.  

A team of nursing and family care professionals are there to support the wishes of the ill loved one. Time is so important and the quality of the time is elevated once hospice arrives.

Patients' families often say, "I wish I had called sooner. It would have given all of us more time and less stress during those last months. I just wish I had the help earlier."

Involving hospice earlier allowed one of our clients, Jake to be in control of how he wanted to spend his last months. He wanted to make his own decisions regarding care and treatments. Although he knew his illness was terminal, he still had things to communicate and to accomplish.  

With hospice, Jake was given a team to address difficult issues that he feared would upset his family to discuss. Within the environment of support of the hospice team, he had help communicating those decisions and dreams with his family.  

One of the best things was that he knew his decision to involve hospice added a level of support to his wife and children that he could not give. In that respect, calling hospice sooner was a gift he could give his family early enough so they could benefit from the hospice team while going through the difficult months.    

Area resident Laura called hospice when she knew she faced a possibility that her illness was terminal She was a single mother and had great concern how she would care for her teen daughter both during her illness and after her death if the treatment she had been seeking wouldn't resolve her disease.

 She called hospice just to understand the help she could expect for her and her daughter. Although she was not yet able to be a hospice patient as she was still responding to treatment, she learned that hospice would be there if  the time came she needed to enroll. She learned she would be helped with discussing her wishes, sorting out care for her daughter, and providing physical care to allow her to spend her days at home.  

Establishing a contact with the hospice team early allowed Laura to know that she was supported even while she was still fighting her disease just as aggressively as she could. The peace of mind that they would be there if she needed them allowed her to rest better.

If you or someone you know is walking through a serious illness, it is not too early to call hospice to learn what they can do to help if needed. Hospice works best when the patient and family have the time to develop a care plan and follow it in the final months. The call is not about giving up, it is preparing for a better quality of life in those days when emotions make decisions difficult.  

Shelley J. Steiner is marketing and community relations director of Hospice of Washington County.

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