In September 2022, I accompanied my 82-year-old father to his oncologist. My dad recently had a PET scan and the results were not good. After seven years of successful treatment with immunotherapy drugs, his cancer had spread. Doctors told us it might be time to think about end-of-life care.
On its website, the American Cancer Society states, “Hospice care is specialized care that focuses on the quality of life of patients with an advanced, life-threatening illness and their caregivers.” The focus of care shifts from treating disease to treating pain, keeping patients comfortable, clean and safe. “Hospice care provides compassionate care for people in the final stages of an incurable disease, enabling them to live as fully and comfortably as possible,” explains ACS. While I’d heard the term “hospice” before, I didn’t fully understand what it meant until my dad entered this type of care. Like many people, I associate end-of-life care with giving up, but it’s not fair or true. Death is part of life, and hospice centers acknowledge this fact. Massachusetts author Katherine Newman spent months caring for a friend who was in hospice at the end of her life. “I learned that hospice is the most humane place, both heartbreaking and beautiful,” Newman said. Plus
: My mom had to live in a nursing home. How can I provide her with the care she needs? Learn about hospice careThe idea of hospice care began in the 1950s of the United Kingdom. It came to the United States in 1974, when Florence Wald, two pediatricians, and a priest founded Connecticut Hospice in Branford, Connecticut. In 1982, a federal act made hospice care a covered benefit under Medicare. Hospice care is for people who are expected to live six months or less and are no longer receiving life-prolonging treatment. This does not mean that the patient will live six months more (could be much less depending on when hospice care begins and progress) ) In some cases, patients may live longer than six months, and doctors may have to request extended care. Hospice care is not assisted suicide; taking medication does not cause death. Emphasis of hospice care Hospice shifts focus from disease treatment to comfort care and Quality of Life. Care includes pain management and other services such as emotional and spiritual support. Hospice programs often provide support for loved ones, including training on how to care for the sick and grief counseling. Hospice care can take place in a person’s home or a hospice facility. Determining which one is best is a personal decision based on various factors. The benefit of home hospice is that it allows patients to remain in familiar settings. Equipment such as hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and bath chairs can all be brought into the home to ensure the comfort and safety of the personnel. “Amenity kits” are also provided, which include medications for issues such as pain, nausea and anxiety. While home hospice includes visits from nurses and aides, it is not 24/7 assistance. Much of the care (such as helping with bathing and administering medication) will be borne by a caregiver, either a loved one or an outside helper (Hospice care is not included and is paid out of pocket.) For some people, inpatient hospice is better choice. Newman’s friend was cared for in a hospice. “My friend has young children, so taking care of her at home is out of the question. Plus, her care needs are so complex that inpatient hospice is the only option,” Newman explained. on MarketWatch Also shows: Assisted living where we live is $100,000 a year. We are almost 60 years old, should we buy long-term care insurance?
My dad had been feeling sick for weeks before that doctor’s appointment Not feeling well. He has no appetite and is losing weight. He also sleeps more during the day. As his condition worsened, he confided to me that he didn’t think he could last much longer. But it wasn’t in his nature to give up the fight, so he continued with treatment. Doctors now allow him to stop. When my father heard the news, his first reaction was not depression, but relief. My father’s feelings were not uncommon. “Hospitals don’t want a person to die. It feels like a failure,” Newman explained. “When patients are not cured, they feel like they have let others down. While knowing that they are going to die is scary and devastating, it can also be a relief in some way, especially for those who have been fighting and fighting for so long. For those in pain.”
In hospice, Lack of urgency. The focus becomes being here now, living in the moment. “Nobody wakes you up to take your temperature or advises you to eat a healthy, balanced meal,” Newman said. Hospice patients stop worrying about prolonging life and can indulge in simple pleasures. My dad was smoking outside the house one afternoon when his visiting nurse arrived. Instead of scolding or urging him, she said softly, “Take your time, take your time.” I will wait. She pulled up a chair and sat next to him. Newman’s experience caring for a friend in hospice was so poignant that it inspired her novel “We All Want the Impossible.” She She also became a hospice volunteer after her friend died. Newman said: “People crave comfort food. I must have made thousands of grilled cheese sandwiches. They smoke marijuana, drink a little alcohol, listen to music—seek as much pleasure as possible. “See also: How to give your heirs fast access to your bank account after you die END LIFE CONVERSATIONS In addition to checking vitals and adjusting medications, hospice workers support people in their “transition.” Visiting my dad’s nurse He and assistants were kind and compassionate. They created a safe environment for him to openly express his feelings. Hospice also provides opportunities for loved ones to have difficult conversations. He is dying , it was no secret to Dad and us. So we took the opportunity to talk about that fact and discuss things like his funeral. Newman said: “Talking about difficult things can be scary . You worry that you’ll screw up or say the wrong thing. But this person knows they’re dying; without these conversations, they’re left to think alone. Better to have courage and take risks. Hospice gives you the time and space to talk about these tough things. ” Those first few days of grieving with my dad made it so much easier to grieve. There were a lot of decisions, but we were calm and trusting that we knew what he wanted. RELATED: What is end-of-life medical assistance, when and is it legal? Here’s an update on the end-of-life debate. Saying goodbye Being in hospice also gives people time to talk about other things. “It’s ironic; people are dying but feel the world There is still time. There’s a lot of time just sitting in a hospice. You gossip, gossip, and you laugh too. “ People often feel uneasy about having more meaningful last conversations with loved ones, or they might feel guilty if they weren’t there when a loved one died. “They’re looking for that tear-jerking climax that they see in movies moments, but real death isn’t like that,” Newman points out. “Not every conversation is going to be profound. ” Typically, a person has visitors almost 24/7 and dies when the room is empty. Some believe this is because that’s what the person wants – they wait for loved ones to leave. life, not what happened in the last days or hours. “ READ: What Dogs Can Teach Us About Life and Death Initially, my brothers objected to placing my dad in hospice care. They felt like it was throwing in the towel. But the more we talked to our dad and learned more about hospice, we all realized it was the right choice. We have always supported our dad. Hospice allows us as he faces life Ending with the same support. Randi Mazzella is a freelance writer focusing on everything from parenting to pop culture to 50 Broad theme of life after age. She is a mother of three grown children and lives in New Jersey with her husband. Read more of her work at randimazzella.com. This article is reproduced with permission of NextAvenue.org*) , ©2023 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved. Update from Next Avenue Multiple content: