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6 Common Hospice Care Myths

Choosing hospice means you’re giving up hope. 

Hospice care improves the quality of life and provides support and comfort when a cure is no longer possible. Instead of those who are ill and their families dwelling on the imminent loss, hospice care helps them to focus on making the most of the life that remains. Through hospice care, patients can focus on the things that matter most to them without having to worry about the pain and treatments.

Hospice is a place.

Hospice care can take place wherever patients feel most comfortable. Hospice nurses make visits to see patients wherever they call home whether it is their own home, a nursing home or assisted living facility. 

HOSPICE CARE IS ONLY FOR PATIENTS WITH CANCER.

Hospice care is not only for patients with cancer, and applies to many diagnoses. Other common diagnoses that receive hospice care are Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, congestive heart failure, and stoke. 

Once a patient elects hospice care, they can’t return to traditional medical treatments.

This is simply not true; patients can stop hospice treatment at any time.  If a patients’ condition improves, their disease goes into remission, or they want to return to a curative-based approach they can do so at any time.

Hospice is only for the patient.

Hospice care supports the patients’ family as much as they do the patient. Hospice teams act as a support system for the family and work with them to help prepare them for the passing of their loved one. Hospice also offers bereavement services after a loved one has passed and social workers are there to help the family make difficult decisions.

Only the doctor can refer you to hospice care.

Referrals to hospice care can come from not only physicians but also nurses, social workers, case workers and the patients and their families. Although anyone can make a referral, a physician’s order is required for hospice admission and they need to certify that the patient has a terminal illness with a life expectancy of 6 months or less.

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Supporting a Friend Who is Grieving - 5 Ways to be of Comfort

When a friend loses a loved one, it can be difficult to know the right words to say or what the right things are to do to show support. Here are 5 ways that you can be of comfort to someone that is grieving and going through a difficult time.

1. Listen

This is one of the most important things that makes such a huge difference. Listen to what they have to say. Sometimes there are no words we can say, but just being there and listening to the grieving person is reassuring.

2. Respect the person’s way of grieving

We all handle things differently, and that includes how we grieve. There is no right or wrong way and there is no time frame for grief. Just be patient and understanding with them.

3. Help out with daily tasks

When you lose a loved one, it can be very difficult to perform daily tasks. Let them know you are there to help them with whatever they need, be it grocery shopping, doing laundry, preparing meals… whatever it may be. Supporting your friend in these ordinary ways is bigger than you know.

4. Ask them how they are feeling

Sometimes we are quick to assume how someone feels or what someone is feeling, but in these type of situations is important to ask them how they feel or what they are feeling instead of assuming. As a friend, it will give you better insight into how you can help them and it also allows and encourages the person to talk about what they are going through.

5. Show love

A shoulder to cry on, letting them know they are cared for, showing them compassion, and telling them you are there for them… it means so much, and that’s what true friends are for.


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Choosing a Hospice Care and Some Questions to Ask

Choosing a hospice care for your loved one can be a very difficult and stressful decision to make. You want to make sure they have the best end-of-life care possible and are surrounded with people that make the last moments of their life a peaceful time. Here are some questions to ask a hospice care program to help aide you in making the right decision.

  • Is the agency accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency such as JCAHO?
    If the organization has sought accreditation they are committed to quality care.

  • How long has the hospice been in operation and can they provide references?
    If the hospice has been around for a while, it indicates stability. You can also ask if the agency provide references from professionals, such as a hospital or community social workers, who have used the agency.

  • What is the availability and response time?
    If the family needs someone to come in the middle of the night, what is their average response time and what are the service boundaries geographically?

  • What are patient’s rights and responsibilities?
    Does the hospice provide this info, and if so ask to see a copy of this information.

  • What are the costs and is the hospice Medicare certified?
    How does the agency handle payment and billing? Medicare certification is essential if the patient is a Medicare beneficiary.

  • What is the expectation of the family’s caregiving role?
    Does the hospice require a designated family primary caregiver and what is expected of the primary caregiving role?

  • What are inpatient options?
    Patients being cared for at home may need to go to an inpatient unit for difficult symptom management. Visit these facilities to make sure your loved one would be comfortable there. 

  • What kind of bereavement services does the hospice offer?
    Some hospices provide grief support and counseling to the family after a loss.

  • What extra services does the hospice provide?
    Do they offer extra services beyond what is required?

These are a few of the important questions that can help assist you when choosing a hospice care. HospiceTalk.com can also assist you in locating quality hospice care programs. HospiceTalk maintains a directory of only the best hospices in your area. These are hospices that provide exceptional care and go through HospiceRaters, an in-depth process of vetting hospice care providers, before they are listed on the site. 

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Helping Children Cope with Grief

As adults, it can be a very difficult thing to explain death to children and to know how to help them cope with a loss. Here are some ways to help children get through and understand the loss of a loved one. 

Be honest 

Talk to them straight forward about what has happened, keeping it age appropriate. Avoid using euphemisms, such as telling kids that the loved one "went away" or "went to sleep" or even that your family "lost" the person. Because young kids think so literally, such phrases might make them afraid to go to sleep or fearful whenever someone goes away.

Enourage

Encourage kids to express their feelings. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be sad. Encourage them to talk about what they are feeling and ask any questions they may have about death.

Expression

Express your own feelings. Allow them to see you cry, children need to know that grieving is acceptable.

Funeral

Attend the Funeral. Whether or not to attend the funeral is a personal decision that depends entirely on you and your child. Funerals can be helpful for providing closure, but some children aren’t ready for this experience. 

Support

Consider enrolling them in a support program. Such groups are offered periodically throughout the year by hospices and other community agencies.

Cherish the memories. Talk about the loved one who has passed. Make Picture books, look at family photos, and share memories with each other. 


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