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Hospice Does Not Equal Death

People equate hospice with death.

If you think of the word 'Death,' you are not alone.

It never ceases to amaze me that in the 50 years hospice services have been available to everyone in this country, the association people tend to have with hospice is not 'comfort care at the end of life', but rather 'giving up on living'.

My mom was on hospice care for 2.5 years. It kept her stable and comfortable. When she was kicked off it for a few weeks for no longer needing it, her health declined precipitously, thus again qualifying her for the service.

Her story is not unique. Many people are on hospice for much longer than the "6-month or less" qualifying diagnosis.

But too many people wait until they are days or weeks away from death out of fear of giving in to death. They miss out on the comfort care from the heroic nurses, the aides, the social workers, the spiritual care team, and doctors. They miss out on having a team review their care.

I have been a hospice volunteer working with patients at three different non-profit hospices. I have been a community ambassador volunteer at a hospice, producing programming on death and dying. I have seen and heard stories from so many families who are eternally gratefully for the hospice care their loved one received.

Yes, there are fair criticisms of hospice, such as the problem that Medicare-reimbursement of their services has overly medicalized their work. Death is not a medical event.

For-profit hospices have often tarnished the field, seeking profits over quality care.

But you have to believe the hospice movement is not about hastening death at all; it is about deep love, compassion, honoring of the dying person so that the highest level of peace and comfort can be achieved as they prepare to leave their earthly bodies.

When you hear the word 'Hospice' what do you think of?

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