Four Things You Should Know If You’re Considering Hospice for Your Loved One
A lot of misconceptions exist about hospice and other forms of end-of-life care. We spoke with Dennis Koffer, MD, medical director of Johnston Health Hospice Services, about why hospice is important and how Johnston Health’s SECU Hospice House can bring comfort and peace to the families of those who are nearing the end of their lives. Here are four facts to keep in mind if hospice is on the horizon for your family member or loved one.
1. Hospice is not just for the elderly.
Hospice is for patients of all ages who are at the end of their lives due to terminal illness. Hospice care is a type of palliative care--care that is intended to relieve symptoms and bring comfort -- for people who are nearing death. The primary goal of hospice care is to alleviate fear, isolation and discomfort. In this sense, hospice is a gift.
2. Consider making end-of-life decisions in advance.
We don’t do a very good job of planning for the end of our lives. It makes sense -- no one wants to dwell on our mortality. However, when a patient arrives in hospice care, there are many decisions to be made about his or her care. Oftentimes, by the time hospice care is necessary, patients are unable to speak for themselves. We can use a tool called advanced care planning to get ahead of this problem and make sure that every patient’s wishes are honored. Dr. Koffer often uses a philosophy called “The Five Wishes” to help make sense of advanced care planning. The Five Wishes are:
- If I can’t speak, who speaks for me? (Who will be my medical power-of-attorney?)
- Do I want to be resuscitated if my heart stops?
- How do I want to be cared for?
- Do I want people to visit me, and who are those people?
- What do I want other people to know before I pass away?
It’s never too early to begin thinking about your Five Wishes. Preparedness for the end of life is the best way to bring comfort to patients and families alike.
3. Hospice care is as much for the family as it is for the patient.
The purpose of hospice care is to be able to leave the world peacefully, with loved ones by your side. This is why inpatient units such as the SECU Hospice House are so valuable.
Families can spend time with their loved one without having to worry about their care. They can listen to music, participate in religious ceremonies, and just spend time celebrating life. Family members can visit their loved ones in the Hospice House at any time, day or night. Even pets are welcome!
4. Hospice is a place to go to cherish the life you have left.
Dr. Koffer and the rest of the staff at Johnston Health’s SECU Hospice House have a mission of providing all patients with dignity, comfort and grace. They make a point to never mourn the living -- instead, they focus on making the patient (and the patient’s family) as comfortable as possible so that the time they have left is spent in peace. This philosophy is what makes the Hospice House so special. It is a welcoming space for families to be joyful and sorrowful, to mourn and to celebrate.