A caring conversation can happen at any time. National Healthcare Decision Day (April 16), reminds us that it is never too early to start our caring conversation about our personal healthcare decisions. Taking the time to talk with our family, friends and healthcare providers about what is important to us assures that our wishes are expressed and respected. And it makes sense that it is better to start the conversation around the kitchen table – rather than in the intensive care unit.
In the past year of loneliness, we have been isolated from those we love – and many of us have experienced deep sadness and loss. It is encouraging to know that talking with our families about our wishes and decisions is one way to again bring us closer together. Discussing advance directives may at first, seem like a daunting task. But, doing so is a great gift for the people who care about you. When our loved ones learn about our wishes and preferences, they are able to understand and focus on the things that matter most to us.
Advance care planning includes completing an advance directive (also known as a living will) and appointing a healthcare power of attorney (someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself). Then, most importantly, as you share your decisions with your family and loved ones, they are able to know your desires and focus on things that matter.
“Focusing on things that matter” happens naturally with our Serenity Hospice Care team, so when it is time for a caring hospice conversation, we are here to help. Our experienced and compassionate team is available day or night to listen to your needs and answer questions such as:
- What is the difference between home health and hospice?
- Who pays for hospice?
- How much does hospice cost?
- What are the levels of hospice care?
If you wish, our team will consult your family physician to discuss the possibility and timing of hospice care as we work with you to develop a plan of care that addresses patient needs and family supports.
It really is all about timing. That is why pre-planning and making healthcare decisions is so important. Having candid and open conversations helps us understand the needs of those we love and goes a long way toward making the last days the very best they can be.
Clearly, this is a miraculous time in the field of medicine. Research, complementary therapies, medication development and the use of innovative measures have shown that many illnesses and chronic conditions can be overcome. However, at some point, we will all find ourselves in a situation where we need to think about our end-of-life scenario. And, while death is not an option for us, we do have choices about what services we use as our health is deteriorating.
For persons with a life-limiting illness, pain management and symptom relief are particular concerns. The Serenity Hospice Care team expertly helps patients feel comfortable with pain management alternatives. And if administering pain medication requires a new skill, family members can count on our professional staff for training and guidance.
Beyond clinical care, Serenity’s caring hospice team includes social workers, chaplains and bereavement counselors who help patients and families come to terms with the dying process. They assist patients with important tasks, saying their final goodbyes, healing broken family relationships, and completing their life journey whether in hospice home care or hospice community care. With years of experience, our hospice care team recognizes that patients and families who have made plans and are at peace with dying, have a less stressful death and the family benefits from a less complicated grieving process.
And so, if you think about it, hospice care works best when it happens ahead of time. This allows the patient/family and hospice team to get to know and trust each other and fully embrace hospice as a philosophy and a method of care. This “hospice rhythm” recognizes that the family needs time to be together so they can address certain matters and experience some “bucket list” moments and the hospice team needs time to provide the very best care for the patient. “Making the most of this precious time” recognizes that family members and friends need not be thrust into or overwhelmed by caregiving. Though gratifying, the strain of constant physical, emotional, and financial challenges can lead to isolation and a lonely existence. With the expertise and care planning of our premier hospice team, loved ones are once again able to return to their family roles and the hospice team is able to personally care for the patient/family as all involved think about what is needed and what assistance can be provided.
It all starts with a caring conversation – between you and those who love you. National Healthcare Decisions Day has been held on April 16 for twelve years because the day after “Tax Day” is usually a good day to discuss one’s wishes. Yet, last year’s Decision Day was very different from any of the previous years. Indeed, COVID-19 profoundly altered our lives, creating an intense need to focus on advance care planning. In 2021, Serenity Hospice Care reminds you to talk with those you love as you document your wishes and embrace hospice as a possibility for your end-of-life requests.
“Given the uncertainty that we find ourselves coping with during the COVID-19 public health crisis, taking time to talk about the care you would or would not want with your loved ones is a worthwhile activity for all of us to undertake,” said NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach. “Far too many Americans put off talking about their health care wishes and then they find themselves in a medical crisis and it may be too late to ensure that you get the care you want.” (National Hospice and Palliative Care Association (NHPCO), April 15, 2020. Though the need to share wishes regarding decision-makers and end-of-life issues certainly isn’t new, when we reflect on all that we have encountered in 2020, we are reminded of the benefits of advance care planning.
On April 16, why not join Americans across the country in making future healthcare decisions known to your family, friends, and health care providers? Share your wishes and complete your Advance Directives because your healthcare decisions matter. After all, it simply begins with a caring conversation.
The word "hospice" was once used to describe a place of refuge for people on a difficult journey. Our excellent care and deep compassion for patients and families offer a place of comfort on the end-of-life journey. Recognizing that in hospice care the main guardians are the family caregiver and the hospice team, care is most often provided in the home setting or community setting, rather than in hospitals and hospice care facilities. The Serenity Hospice Care team will support the patient and family wherever they are to call home.
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