A huge part of being a hospice patient is the ability to choose to be a hospice patient. It’s not a death sentence handed down! Hospice is a choice to pursue treatment that will ensure your comfort and quality of life.
Sometimes, though, families don’t want to hear the word hospice. They think it’s giving in, relinquishing hope. Most people wait so long to call in the hospice team, that they have very little time to do what they are good at doing — providing care and comfort to the dying and their families. Often, by the time hospice workers get a call, the patient and family have been going it alone for weeks and months. Why do people wait so long to make that call? They deserve much more attention and assistance.
What length of time is optional for hospice care? It’s hard to say. I know that Memorial Hospice patients receive care for an average of 52 days. My sister, whose emphysema finally took her life at the tender age of 47, received hospice care for an unusual nine months, thankfully.
As her disease progressed, eroding her ability to drive, walk, perform simple chores, and eventually extinguishing her life, her symptoms and resulting pain were well managed at home, just the way she wanted it. Through regular home visits from trained hospice staff, she was assessed several times each week and her care was fine-tuned as needed to keep her comfortable while her body wound down, preparing for the end of her life. They helped us family members, too.
We are so grateful we had that time together, and that her death was peaceful, private, and pain-free. I wish the same for everyone who has to say goodbye to a love one.