A billboard in my city carries a simple message: "Most families say, 'Why did we wait so long to call hospice?' "
When I talk with our local hospice folks, they say that is the message they hear most often. Yet, I understand why people do wait. Calling in hospice for the care of an elderly parent or other a loved one means you need to come to terms, on all levels, with the idea that this person is dying. The person who is dying needs to come to terms with this issue as well, however, from my experience, it's the family who is most reluctant to accept a diagnosis that the disease is terminal. Accepting that our own or a loved one's life is limited to a few months, weeks or days is gut-wrenching. However, when we do get to the stage where we accept that nothing more can be done to extend their lives, or at least extend their lives without any quality of life, we are finally in a position to help.
Calling Hospice Means Taking Action: We can stop wringing our hands and feeling helpless and we can decide that we will do whatever we can to help our loved one have some quality of life for whatever time he or she has left. We can rally the troops and call hospice. My mother had to cope with a great deal of pain during her last years. Sometimes she would look at me and say, "Can't you just give me a little black pill?" I'd smile tearfully and say, "No, Mom. I can't. But I'll do everything I can to make sure you are as comfortable as possible." Mom was in an excellent nursing home at the time. However, they could only do so much with pain control without overstepping their boundaries. After the doctor in charge decided...
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