Hospice Feed

Death. For some, it signals the beginning of a more perfect life. For others, it is the end. Ultimately, for everyone, death is part of the life cycle and no amount of medical intervention will change that. Filmmaker Cathy Zheutlin became fascinated by the way that different cultures and religions view the death experience, and in the process, he has made a remarkable film titled Living While Dying, which features people who are going through that process and their varying emotions. Read more →

“Carol!” The hospice nurse’s voice was quiet but urgent. I instinctively knew what was happening. She had been shifting Dad’s position so that he wouldn’t develop bed sores, but as she was laying him back on the bed, something changed in his respiration. This was it. His body was preparing for him to take his last breath. I slid back in my spot beside Dad and took him in my arms. His head drifted to my shoulder and that last, gentle breath slipped by unnoticed by me. What I felt was the positive force of Dad’s spirit leaving his body. And then — joy! Did I just write joy? Yes, I did. Read more →

A video I recently stumbled upon remains vivid in my mind. An elderly couple who had spent a lifetime devoted to one another was coping with the wife's Alzheimer's disease. At this point, the wife was in a nursing home. She was unhappy, aggressive and even combative with the staff. No one knew what to do with her.  Read more →

No one needs to die in pain. That is what the social worker told me as I signed the papers that would put my father on hospice care. That is the mantra of hospice, and it became my mantra as well. I had no choice but to believe it since my dad had suffered so much. For weeks, each time I walked into Dad's room in the nursing home, he would be rigid in bed, up on one elbow and slamming his fist against his hand. Pow! Pow! Pow! Over and over, he pounded fist against hand. I would try to get him to relax; to lie back. He couldn't comprehend. Pow! Pow! Pow! He was trying to knock out the pain. Read more →

Our culture is steeped in language that makes accepting the terminal diagnosis of ourselves or a loved one more difficult to accept than it needs to be. Doctors say, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can do. You might want to look into hospice care.” Patients tell their doctors that they want “aggressive treatment,” until there is nothing else that can be done, then they will go on hospice care. Read more →

Many people have heard of hospice care but they mistakenly think that it’s just a way to help cancer patients be more comfortable at the end of their lives. Fewer people have heard of palliative care, and they may have no idea what it is. The truth is that hospice and palliative care are related but used for different reasons at different times, and everyone should be well-versed in what they offer. Here, we’ll clarify some points of confusion. Read more →

It’s far too easy for onlookers to view someone with dementia as unable to feel pain. Since the disease eventually renders most people helpless and cognitively inexpressive, they can't articulate what hurts or why they are upset. Caring researchers have now brought new insight to this issue. In an article on altered pain processing in patients with cognitive impairment, Medical News Today states that new research shows how wrong previous ideas about what people with cognitive disorders could feel have been. Read more →

Dear Carol: My dad had been fighting cancer for years. Eventually, there was no more hope for a cure, so we agreed to ask for hospice care to keep Dad comfortable during his last weeks of life. He surprised us by doing well under hospice care, living beyond the doctor’s expectation, but, of course, he eventually died. What bothers me is that I wasn’t with him at the moment he passed. He was in a nursing home at the time and the staff was wonderful. They called the family together when it was determined that Dad was close to the end. My siblings and I sat with Dad for two days around the clock. We brought in food at first but as the wait stretched out we took turns going to my nearby home to shower and nap. Dad died during my nap. I still feel devastated and guilty that I wasn’t there when he passed. I go to hospice grief counseling and that is helping, but I’m wondering if you have any words of comfort to offer? Rhonda Read more →

Hospice care is palliative care, but palliative care is not hospice. The difference between these two types of care is something that I have found difficult to clarify myself let alone explain to others. However, this care is a fundamental part of treating any chronic or terminal illness. Read more →

Dear Carol: My mom is 94 years old and frail. She has a weak heart and bad lungs, yet she hangs on. I’m a 73-year-old widow. I took care of Mom at home for over five years, but two years ago I placed her in a nursing home. I felt terrible guilt about doing that because I’d promised her that I wouldn’t, but my own health was deteriorating and I couldn’t physically transfer her anymore. There was no other choice. Apparently, we both had outdated ideas about nursing homes or we would have done this sooner since we are both pleased. Read more →