Hospice: Not a place, but a face

Throughout our lives, all of us encounter difficult and challenging situations. Most of us can remember someone who helped during those times--a grandparent, a special teacher, even a stranger who became a friend. The recollections of these "faces of caring" bring comfort and calm in the midst of crisis.

Yet when recalling end-of-life situations of those we love, many of us have different recollections. These memories may include the hurt on the face of a loved one in pain; the sorrow on the face of a family member who did not get the opportunity to say goodbye to a dying relative; the stress on the faces of those making difficult decisions about end-of-life choices without guidance or support.

Lutheran Hospice focuses on patient and family values, goals and wishes, along with effective pain management tailored to each patient.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. This month, professionals and volunteers work to raise awareness of this invaluable system of care. Those who provide hospice and palliative care offer pain and symptom control, dignity, and spiritual and emotional care for both dying persons and their loved ones when a cure is not possible.  Hospice and palliative care puts a "face" on quality end-of-life care--the faces of nurses, doctors, social workers, spiritual caregivers, homecare aides and volunteers who provide services and support to families during one of life's most challenging times.

Facts you need to know:
  • More people choose hospice and palliative care each year. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that there are more than 4,000 hospice programs in the United States, and these programs cared for more than 1.2 million people last year.
  • For twenty-five years, hospice has been a fully covered benefit under Medicare. Hospice is also covered by Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs and other managed care organizations.
  • Hospice and palliative care can take place in a variety of settings, including private homes, hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
  • Approximately 400,000 hospice volunteers contribute more than 18 million hours per year.
  • Hospice and palliative care is an option for those with illnesses other than cancer, including HIV/AIDS and dementia.
  • Professionally-trained staff help to facilitate communication between family members about advance care planning, end-of-life wishes and decision making.
  • Studies have shown that hospice and palliative care directly addresses the concerns that many people have about dying, which include being in pain and being a burden on family.
  • The majority of families whose loved one was cared for by hospice overwhelmingly support their decision to choose hospice care; the most common statement heard is, "we wish we had chosen hospice sooner."

For more information, call Lutheran Hospice at 1-800-631-8918 or visit our website at www.LutheranHospice.org