Submitted by Meghan Gardner
I have been a hospice volunteer with Care Dimensions since 2016. About a year before my mom died, we were discussing my hospice volunteer work and agreed to have a Death Day celebration—a day we’d dress up, go out to eat, reminisce, and talk about what she wanted to happen (if possible) as she was dying.
That day spent with my mom, talking about her future death, gave me both guidance and solace in a difficult time. A short time later, Mom completed her advance directives with me and my brother. I think having a Death Day celebration once a year would be an excellent excuse for both a celebration of life and imparting important guidance to our loved ones about our wishes. I know it was a treasured memory for both me and my mom.
November is National Hospice Palliative Care Month, a time to raise awareness about the specialized care that hospice and palliative care provides to patients and their families. Both hospice and palliative care focus on the patient’s needs, comfort, and quality of life. Hospice is a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain and symptom management, and emotional and spiritual support for people with a serious illness and a life expectancy of six months or less. The primary goal is to provide care, support, and comfort when a cure may no longer be possible.
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. It focuses on relieving symptoms and stress of the illness. Palliative care can be provided to anyone at any age at any time during a serious or chronic illness and is available while you are also receiving curative treatment.
This year’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Month theme is “Courageous Conversations,” which encourages patients, health care providers, and community
members to have important discussions about the care they wish to receive when facing a serious illness, and to do it before a crisis hits. Having courageous conversations can help patients and families develop personalized care plans that will meet their needs and lead to “a good death.”
If you or your loved one is facing a serious illness, do not hesitate to find out how hospice or palliative care can help. The sooner you get the care you need, the sooner you can benefit from an improved quality of life.