Howard was only 41 years old and was suffering from the advanced stages of esophageal cancer when he was admitted into Livingston’s compassionate hospice care. Within days his pain was under control and he was comfortable enough to leave the house, be with friends and even enjoy a beer. Although he was on hospice care, he was living what appeared to be an ordinary life again. When the end finally came, his passing was pain free.
Many people think that being on hospice means lying in a bed, barely conscious. Howard’s story proves that is not the case. Many of his final moments were anything but ordinary, and they would not have been possible without the help of hospice.
Howard’s experience is not unique. The mission of hospice is to provide specialized care for end-of-life patients and their families. Hospice care supports living one’s life to the fullest with dignity regardless of how much time remains.
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Here are some of the common myths of hospice that need to be put to rest:
MYTH: Hospice care means leaving home.
FACT: Hospice is not a place. In fact, hospice services can be provided to a terminally ill patient and his or her family wherever they are most comfortable, or wherever they consider “home.”
MYTH: Hospice means forgoing all medical treatment.
FACT: With hospice, the focus changes from cure to comfort. The hospice provider will assess the needs of the patient, deciding which medications and equipment are needed for maximum comfort.
MYTH: Hospice means strangers care for you.
FACT: Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association strives to educate and support family members to serve as the primary caregivers for an end-of- life patient. The hospice team comes alongside the family and consists of doctors, nurses, aides, social workers, therapists, volunteers and chaplains, and are available 24/7.
MYTH: Hospice care ends when someone dies.
FACT: Bereavement support services that deal specifically with grief and coping after the loss of a loved one are available at no cost for up to a year after someone dies. In addition, Livingston has bereavement support groups for the general public in various parts of Ventura County. For more information, visit the website at http://lmvna.org/calendar/index.html
MYTH: People on hospice are in bed, waiting to die.
FACT: Hospice enables special moments and memories at the end of a life that would otherwise not happen. Howard called hospice because he wanted to live his life to the fullest with dignity, restoring a quality of life that he may have otherwise lost to invasive treatments and surgeries.
Hospice makes more meaningful moments possible.