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Hospice: Living Fully Until the End

Contrary to popular belief, hospice isn’t a death sentence; rather, it is assistance to live your best life until the end. If you have a loved one in hospice in San Francisco and elsewhere, or you yourself are facing entering hospice, take comfort in knowing you deserve to live fully until the end.

No one can change what is happening, but you can make your parent, spouse, child, or sibling feel as comfortable as they possibly can for the best quality of life during hospice. With a focus on symptom management and pain control, this allows the patient to be as alert and involved in life as they possibly can. Quality of life may mean different things to different people. For one, it may mean being peacefully surrounded by family and friends. For another, it may mean being left alone. Following the wishes of the patient is the best course of action so that their definition of quality of life has been met.

The Myth About Hospice

A lot of people seem to have the wrong idea about hospice. The myth is that it’s about dying and that hospice is where you go when there is no more hope for curative treatment. The truth is that hospice is actually about living well up to the very end of life, says Psychology Today. This great misunderstanding stops patients who need it the most from finding and receiving the best relief and support possible. The reality is: hospice helps those with life-limiting illness live as fully as they can for as long as possible.

The hospice approach involves a multi-disciplinary team that comprises doctors, nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers. The services provided to both the individual and the family members can include:

  • Education
  • Pain management
  • Medication management
  • Counseling
  • Spiritual support
  • Grief and bereavement services to family members

Hospice, in a nutshell, is not a place; rather, it’s a form of high-quality care and philosophy focusing on comfort and quality of life.

Focus on Comfort and Care

In hospice, the focus shifts from curative treatment to pain management and comfort. Hospice allows patients to stay comfortable, remain in control of their lives, and enjoy the remainder of what they have left. That may mean staying at home with family and friends or it may mean being in a caring facility with a team of professionals as well as family. Side effects like pain, nausea, and shortness of breath are managed but the patient can stay alert enough to enjoy those around them and make critical decisions, points out the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Indeed, the goal of hospice care is to assist those with serious illnesses live their lives to the fullest. It is, in effect, aggressive care that focuses on symptoms rather than cures. It is designed to decrease, relieve and prevent suffering, freeing up patients to focus on what’s most important: tying up loose ends, spending time with loved ones, taking advantage of helpful resources and care, and basically carrying out goals they want to achieve before dying.

End-of-Life Goals

As said above, these can vary from person to person. These end-of-life goals will depend greatly on personal and family wishes, how fast the illness is progressing, and previous experience with death. Common goals include being at home within a familiar environment, surrounded by people they love. Sometimes, patients say they want to be pain-free no matter what, while others want to be alert and present despite any pain.

Something that goes hand in hand with end-of-life goals is having frank end-of-life conversations with your loved one. It’s essential for families to talk to one another about end-of-life wishes; this is an all-important conversation that will deepen the family’s understanding of their loved one’s wishes before they can no longer make those wishes known, says the Huffington Post. This could be medical in nature (how far do you want life-saving efforts to go?) to emotional in nature (do you want a counselor on hand to talk to?). It can even mean carrying out bucket list-type wishes that the patient wants to achieve before death.

Bucket lists don’t have to involve something major like sky diving. They can involve starting a garden out back, sharing a secret with a friend, recording family histories and stories for generations to come, completing a scrapbook, or reconnecting with an old friend or family member.

In the end, hospice care means that no one has to die alone; on the other end of the spectrum, no one has to grieve alone either.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

Pathways offers comprehensive hospice care for patients facing terminal illness. We also offer grief and counseling services to family members. To learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 888-978-1306.