Hospice and Palliative Care Feed

Family caregivers provide many functions for their older adults or spouses, from transporting them to a social event to encouraging healthy habits. Caregivers can also find themselves in a cycle of bouncing from one emergency to the next. Juggling crises is a significant part of what we do, so learning how to handle these situations is helpful. Emergency physician Kevin Haselhorst, M.D., an expert in advance care planning, speaks to patients, family members, and healthcare providers about advance directives, palliative, and end-of-life care. Here are some of his tips. Read more →


Dear Carol: There’s probably no right answer to what I’m asking but I felt the need to write, just for comfort. My mother died when I was in my teens so Dad has been the only parent that I’ve had for more than 20 years. I have no siblings. Dad’s now in his seventies and has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He’s beaten both melanoma and lung cancer in the past, but he tells me that this cancer should be slow growing and that he’ll probably die before it’s a problem so he doesn’t want to treat it. I want him to go full-on with every treatment possible. I watched both of my parents fight cancer, so I know that it’s horrible to go through treatment, but I don’t want to lose him! How do I accept that fact that he’s taking this route? – LM 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. The crux of these conversations is that medicine will do everything possible and then when you give up you will go on hospice care. Read more →


For many, music from certain eras can bring back memories of better times. For others, music soothes anxiety or gets them pumped up for a workout. When it comes to people living with dementia, music can help in all of those ways, but it can also help cognition. Hospice organizations are keenly aware of the soothing power of music. Sometimes the music may be used casually, by the facility or the family, knowing that this is a type of music that the person who is in the dying process had always enjoyed. Increasingly, though, employing trained music therapists has been favored. 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 →


“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! 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 →


Emergency-room doctor Kevin Hasselhorst had an epiphany while he tried valiantly to save an elderly man who’d been through one too many traumas. His book, “Wishes To Die For: A Caregiver’s Guide to Advance Care Directives” was the first step toward a new advocacy. Dr. Hasselhorst continues to work toward helping people understand the importance of healthcare directives and the ability to make their own decisions about end-of-life care. Read more →


DEAR CAROL: My wife has had a stroke that’s left her mostly paralyzed on one side. She can’t speak well and she cries often. We’re in our 70s and have spent our lives as active church people. In fact, we’ve done our share of visiting hospitals and nursing homes representing the church. We’ve told people that what they are facing is their reality and that we will pray for them. We’ve told them to be grateful for what they have. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. I’m having a difficult time feeling grateful for anything at all. Instead, I feel angry, exhausted, frustrated and frightened. How could I have been such a hypocrite all of these years? – Roger Read more →


“I hope we don’t have another funeral this Christmas,” my young son said after we wrapped up Halloween. Hearing my child voice that fear nearly broke my heart, but our family had endured the deaths of two elders during the last two Christmas seasons so why wouldn't he wonder if this year would be the same? Thankfully, that particular year we didn’t have a funeral during the season, though we did have another death at that time the following year. Read more →