A Nurse’s Perspective: Is It Too Early for Hospice?
The time comes when all of us must face death. It may come quickly and unexpectedly. Or it could come as a diagnosis of a terminal illness, giving us more time to consider and process end-of-life care.
Many people have the misconception that hospice is only for the actively dying and that choosing hospice means giving up hope. Maybe they are afraid to let go because then it means it could happen to them. Maybe they are afraid that choosing comfort care only can mean choosing death.
This is wrong.
When patients choose hospice, it doesn’t mean they’re giving up.
It means that they have an awareness that there is no cure for their illness and they are trying to put hope first. It means their focus has shifted to mending relationships, spending time with loved ones and having peace surround them.
Hospice isn’t about choosing death. Hospice allows patients to live as fully as possible each day that they are still here on Earth. It helps them remain comfortable doing so. When hospice is chosen by families and patients, they’ve been through a lot: countless hospital admissions, chemotherapy/radiation and invasive testing. Patients are left feeling tired and sometimes too sick to be awake to be with their families. Hospice helps those patients and their families put the focus onto the quality of life instead of the quantity.
Before their time in hospice, patients’ time would’ve been spent at doctor’s appointments and hospital stays for long amounts of time. Once on hospice, I’ve seen patients embrace important life moments, including seeing distant family members one last time before the illness renders them too weak or bed-bound. Hospice also brings enjoyment of family at home.
Those who choose hospice haven’t given up hope or life, they’ve decided to live life to the fullest.
|Ginger Bundridge, RN/CM Crossroads Hospice RN/CM St. Joseph, MO|
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