When your family member receives a diagnosis of a life-threatening condition, hearing the news can be “like falling through the ice,” to borrow an expression shared in a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch column.
While it is the patient who receives the diagnosis, the family shares the stress and the concern, if not the pain. As a loved one faces the end of his or her life, the support of family members is needed more than ever. Honest, open discussions about the final journey on life’s highway are more difficult for some families than for others. Such discussions are almost never easy.
Hospice can help. Hospice personnel, including social workers and chaplains, as well as medical staff, can help families anticipate the steps that wait ahead on the journey. Hospice team members can facilitate conversations with patients and family members that lead to better communication. In many cases, assumptions about a patient’s wishes can be totally inaccurate. Family members be uncomfortable sharing thoughts with the patient and with one another. The hospice team can play a vital role in encouraging conversations.
Families can take comfort in the knowledge that a hospice crew is monitoring their loved one’s condition several times each week and taking care to provide proper medication. Families are sometimes surprised to discover that hospice offers spiritual and emotional counsel to patients and to family members, along with medical care. Families are relieved to learn that almost all hospice costs are covered by most medical plans.
The role of the family in patient comfort and care cannot be overstated. Because hospice staff members are not with the patient on a 24/7 basis, it is important that caregivers (presumably family members) share information with the hospice team.
Hospice team members provide guidance to family members regarding what they can do to work hand-in-hand with the hospice team.
Hospice team concern for family members does not end when the patient dies. Hospices offer grief counseling and emotional support to family members upon the patient’s death and for up to a year afterward.
Hospice provides wonderful services for patients and offers much for patients’ families as well. For more information about hospice care in metro St. Louis, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. Let us know how we can help you and your family.