By Diane Forrest, RN
My aunt's neighbor passed away a couple of weeks ago. He was a young man, in his early 50's. Had been diagnosed with cancer 2 years earlier. He was divorced, had a young daughter, but she didn't live close. He had no family nearby, so my aunt took on the task of caring for him. As his condition worsened, she would take him to the hospital, doctors, would help with his shopping and care of his home. He continued to work until the month before he passed away. In his last month his doctor had arranged for Hospice care services. This was such a relief for my aunt. She is not medically trained or experienced in caring for the sick. The nurse came and gave her instructions on arrangements that needed to be done, such as final arrangements, funeral planning, getting a power of attorney to be able to help pay his bills and such before he passed.
The morning he passed away, she only had to make one call to his hospice nurse. They made all the arrangements for calling the funeral home to pick him up and everything was done with such speed and efficiency that it gave my aunt a chance to grieve instead of being stressed out about what to do or who to notify.
A hospice is care that focuses on the palliation of a terminally ill patient's symptoms. These symptoms can be physical, emotional, spiritual or social in nature. The concept of hospice has been evolving since the 11th century. Then, and for centuries thereafter, hospices were places of hospitality for the sick, wounded, or dying, as well as those for travelers. The concept for hospice is to give care to the terminally ill in hospitals or nursing homes as well as for those who want to die in their own homes. My mother in law was diagnosed with cancer and decided she didn't want to spend her remaining days in a hospital. She had hospice services to help with her care and needs. It was so comforting to her to be home surrounded by her friends and family instead of lying in a hospital being surrounded by strangers.
It is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. For more information on these services click here: http://www.nhpco.org/templates/1/homepage.cfm