Living Well: Hospice helps ease end-of-life decisions — World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is Oct. 13 | CraigDailyPress.com

Living Well: Hospice helps ease end-of-life decisions — World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is Oct. 13

Memorial Regional Health staff/For Craig Press

If you have a loved one who has gone through hospice, or if you know someone who has benefited from hospice care, then you understand the value it brings to families during the end of a loved one's life. Hospice care not only eases the transition for the person who is dying, it also eases the transition for those left behind.

Hospice care is for people with terminal illnesses, often when all efforts to treat a condition have been made without success. The focus of hospice is caring, not curing. In other words, hospice provides palliative care, which strives to improve the quality of life for patients by helping relieve suffering through comfort measures, including treatment of pain and symptom control and offering the patient and family whatever support they need.

Take advantage of hospice services

Hospice is for the whole family, and the longer your loved one is in hospice, the more benefits you reap. Benefits are practical, such as finalizing a will and advance directives, but more importantly, they provide the physical, emotional, and spiritual care needed to ease the transition for everyone. The hospice team facilitates emotional closure and saying goodbye and guides discussions to make for a peaceful ending to your family member's life. With hospice, you receive wrap-around care, including access to social workers and chaplains who specialize in end-of-life conversations.

The hospice team at Memorial Regional Health works collaboratively to care for your loved one and meets with the family regularly to provide updates on care. Hospice staff are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to provide care for the patient and family.

"By getting a chance to know the patient and family, we are able to better accommodate their wishes and provide more individualized and personal care," said Kristine Cooper, MRH Hospice and Home Health director.

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Don't wait to request hospice

The average length of stay in hospice is 19 days, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. It's best to enroll in hospice as soon as you can to take advantage of all the benefits hospice offers, including assigning a power of attorney and getting a will in order. If families don't plan ahead, there can be difficult and sometimes expensive consequences. It also leaves financial concerns out of the final days, allowing you to simply enjoy your time with your loved one.

"Getting admitted into hospice earlier rather than later helps build relationships and trust with the team, as well as provide more time to complete end-of-life planning and focus on quality of life," Cooper said.

The Hospice program at Memorial Regional Health received good news recently — just in time for World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on Oct. 13. Their bid for accreditation was approved by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care, and they will soon receive official notice. Consider supporting hospice services and helping the team celebrate by purchasing a holiday poinsettia. If you'd like to learn more about MRH hospice services or are interested in volunteering, call 970-824-6882.

MRH Hospice Poinsettia Sale

Need a holiday poinsettia or want to give one to a friend? Memorial Regional Health is holding a poinsettia sale to support hospice services for people in our community. Poinsettias are on sale now through November and will cost $15 each. Three colors will be available, including white, red and jingle bells. To order, visit any MRH front desk and ask for an order form. Poinsettias will be delivered Nov. 19. For more information, call 970-826-8256.