By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects*

Over the years I have heard countless family members say:

“I wish Mom had been placed on Hospice sooner.”

“Why did the doctor wait so long to talk to us about Hospice care for Dad?”

“Mom was only on Hospice a week before she died. The Hospice staff was so wonderful to Mom and our entire family; I wish we were offered Hospice much earlier.”

It is unfortunate that some patients are referred to Hospice so late in the disease process, because the patients and their families miss all the benefits Hospice offers.

Many people think Hospice is only appropriate for people with cancer. However, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) cancer diagnoses account for less than half of all Hospice admissions (36.5%). The majority of Hospice admissions are due to other terminal diseases and illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, lung disease and heart disease.

Hospice is not about death; it is about living and helping patients and their families make the most of the time they have together in familiar surroundings with comfort and dignity.

Early Hospice Intervention Provides:

  • Support to the patient and the entire family by providing a team of professionals and volunteers. As the patient’s needs and condition change, the amount of support and help will change accordingly.
  • The patient and the family time to develop a rapport with Hospice staff. When end-of-life planning can be done early, it frees the patient and family to focus on the quality of their lives and making the most of the time they have left together.
  • Improved patient comfort through better pain control and symptom management.
  • Access to spiritual and bereavement support from chaplains and social workers for both the patient and the family. These professionals can help both the patient and family deal with unresolved issues, and provide them the opportunity to express their feelings and work through any fear or anxiety they are experiencing.

If you would like more information about Hospice, please contact one of our Care Coordinators.

*Pam Gennings has a Bachelor’s of Arts and has worked in the field of Geriatric Social Work and Care Coordination for more than 30 years. She started working for Oxford HealthCare in 1993. During the course of her career she has helped thousands of people find resources to remain in their homes as well as provided guidance to families that were facing difficulties with their aging loved ones.