Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Now is the Time to Give Hope: November is National Hospice Month

by Samira K. Beckwith, President and CEO
Hope HealthCare Services

The month of November is the gateway to the holiday season. For many people, it is a time of love and giving. National Hospice Month, observed every November, is also an occasion for love and giving – and sharing Hope.

Hospice is truly a way of giving and sharing Hope, as it makes the journey less difficult for those in our care, along with their loved ones. Research continues to show that hospice care actually prolongs and improves a person’s quality of life.

The wife of a veteran in our care, married for 49 years, said to me, “My husband has seen battle, and now I have too. This has been the most difficult time of my life, and I needed you.” She let me hold her hand as she wept, and explained, “This isn’t really sadness. Our time together, our life together, was just wonderful.”

She had the support of our Hope Hospice care team, which provided expert medical care to keep her husband comfortable, enabling them to focus on the quality of their time together. Emotional and spiritual support for the entire family ensured their wishes and preferences were always the priority.

National Hospice Month is a time to raise awareness of everyone’s need to discuss their wishes and views for care during a serious illness. This is one of the greatest gifts that we can each give to those we love. And after these discussions it is important to document these wishes in a living will, also known as advance directives, as well as the designation of a health care surrogate. When complete, this simple document states your future healthcare wishes and preferences. In the event you become unable to speak for yourself, your family will be informed of your choices.

We encourage everyone to give hope by supporting others – loved ones, friends, neighbors - who are coping with serious illness. There are many ways to help that are simple and easy, yet will be greatly appreciated:
  • Call to tell them you’re bringing their favorite dish and what time you’re coming. Use disposable containers.
  • Water their flowers.
  • Offer to stay with them, to give their caregivers a break. Invite them out; take them places.
  • Help them to celebrate holidays (and life) by decorating their home or room.
  • Say “I care” through a card, a note or any other meaningful way.
We’ve learned through our experience that even the smallest gestures of care can be the most meaningful and lasting.

Hope can help. To learn more, please visit hopehcs.org, or call (800) 835-1673. Hope encourages everyone to complete an advance directives document. “Five Wishes” includes all the necessary documents and is available on line at no cost at hopehcs.org/fivewishes or by calling (239) 985-7789.