The word hospice originated from the Latin hospitium, which means “to host or offer a place of shelter.” In 2009, an estimated 1.56 million patients, more than 40 percent of deaths, received hospice services in the United States. But many others who might have benefited from hospice care did not seek services, perhaps due to misconceptions, fears and the lack of information of patients, caregivers and even physicians.
“Hospice is a collection of services that are designed to support the patient and family through the course of a serious or terminal illness,” said Donald Schumacher, Psy.D, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). The aim of hospice is to provide physical and emotional care and comfort in the months, weeks and days before death.
It’s often hard for patients and their loved ones to acknowledge that the time to consider hospice care has come. People come to that realization differently and there are some that might never seem to face that the end of life is near. But through the ups and downs of emotions and physical status, hospice team members Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*
This is a guest post by Dr. Barbara Okun and Dr. Joseph Nowinski.
End-Of-Life Planning Makes It Easier To Say Goodbye
Saying goodbye as the end of life approaches can be difficult, even for those with a gift for words. In a moving account in a recent issue of The New Yorker, writer Joyce Carol Oates describes the last week of her 49-year marriage, as her husband was dying from complications of pneumonia. Like A Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion’s poignant memoir of her husband’s sudden death and its aftermath, Oates’ essay highlights the need for each of us to think about death and dying — and discuss them with loved ones — long before they become a likelihood.
In our work with individuals and families facing death, we have seen too many people miss the opportunity to say goodbye because they avoid what feels like a scary or taboo topic: What do I want to happen when I die? Beginning this discussion early, preferably while you are in good health, can help pave the way for a “good death.” In our new book, Saying Goodbye: How Families Can Find Renewal Through Loss, we offer a guide to help individuals facing a terminal illness and their families navigate the realities of death and dying. Planning ahead is essential. Here are some suggestions for doing that:
Choose your team. Identify support people and specialists (legal, medical, financial, religious) you can count on to advocate for you and help you make decisions. Designate these people to act for you by signing advance medical directives. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*
As patients, as family members, as friends, as health care providers, we have all faced end-of-life issues at one time or another, and we will face them again. And again.
This weekend the “Engage With Grace” message is being broadcast virally, through a “blog rally,” at a time when many people are with family and friends over the long weekend. The point is: We all need to have the potentially uncomfortable conversation with people close to us about what kind of treatment we would want, and they would want, if incapable of making or communicating healthcare decisions. CNN ran a story on “Engage With Grace” yesterday.
End-of-life decision-making has long been an issue of great personal and professional interest to me, and I am proud to have played a role in having out-of-hospital DNR orders recognized in Massachusetts by EMS providers, as an example. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*
Yesterday I had a university student shadowing me in the emergency department. AF is a bright student, a hard worker who will make a wonderful physician. She is always curious and insightful when I ask her questions, or show her new things. Today, she saw something that was new for her, but perhaps too common for me.
I walked into the room of an infirm, frail old gentleman who was gracious and polite, as was his family. It turns out he came to us with a terminal illness. I did not know it, but his physician was meeting him. So, as AF and I walked into the room, the patient’s physician walked in after us, and continued a conversation about hospice that he had apparently begun earlier in the day.
Realizing I had nothing to add, and would not be needed, I slipped away with my shadow behind. She looked at me, tears welling, and excused herself. Later she returned and explained that when she saw the wife’s wedding band, and knew what hospice meant, she could not restrain her tears. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*