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Is It Time to Call Hospice?
By Brenda Laughhunn, Executive Director of Calvert Hospice
Three Signs Caregivers Need to Know
1. The disease has progressed to the point that there’s no cure, and you’ve (and your loved one) has decided to manage the pain and be comfortable and not actively seek to treat the disease.
2. You and your loved one chooses to forego any further testing or hospitalizations–by this choice, you allow the dying process to happen naturally. Body functions/organs may begin to diminish.
3. You’re ready to begin to let go, say good-bye and follow the oath of hospice, which is to “neither hinder, not hasten death.”
I knew my mother was ready for hospice before any of her medical team suggested it.
I had asked my mother’s doctor about hospiceAlzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) months beforehand and was “poo-pooed” away. Mother had a great way of rallying herself together for doctor visits, but I lived with her, cared for her 24/7, and I was beginning to see a shift.
I knew my mother had taken a turn. I knew that both of us were over the tests, treatments, and hospital rigmarole. I knew, in essence, that she had given up the will to live.
Whether your loved one has cancer, Parkinson’s, heart disease or dementia, whether they’re young–or old–it’s hard to let go. Even when you know they’re suffering and you want them at peace, it’s hard to let go.
When is the right time to ask about hospice?
Now is the best time to learn more about hospice care and ask questions about what to expect. Although end-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, it is best for loved ones and family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern. This can greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice becomes apparent.
Even the medical community denies and avoids deathAccepting that the end is near, that you will begin to have to let go, to sit quietly by a loved one’s bedside, to not go into “heroics” and throw on the paddles or rush to the ER is very, very difficult.
The last month of my own mother’s life was in many ways one of the most peaceful times of my life. It was also excruciating. As a society, we’re no longer taught to sit with death.
We’re no longer taught to let nature take its course, to relinquish our control. Learning to do this, to hear the clock tick, to let my family come and go as I sat by my mother’s bed and wiped her brow–
It was a finishing of something I had begun.
It was bone deep and cathartic, and gave me time to think and process.
I began to see the whole of my mother’s life. I understood that both of us need to let go.
Hospice isn’t about giving up. It’s about giving in.
Calvert Hospice covers topics such as ‘How to choose, and what to expect, from hospice’, ‘Dispelling common misunderstandings about hospice’, and ‘How to talk to your doctor (and your family) regarding your wishes and values related to your medical care’. Calvert Hospice also offers a free Speaker’s Bureau to community groups and service organizations.For more information about hospice care, and how hospice can help your family, contact Calvert Hospice at 410-535-0892 or visit our website at www.calverthospice.org .
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