Hospice: NOT A Frightening Word

To some, it’s like the name Valdemort in the Harry Potter books. “He who must not be named” is how characters in the books and movies often referred to the Dark Lord.

For some Americans, the word hospice has a similar vibe. Hospice is associated with death and dying. Simply uttering the word “hospice” can be difficult for patients, family members and even doctors and other medical personnel.

But for many Americans, both patients and their family members, hospice means something good, something positive. A referral to hospice, for many patients, means an end to treatments that may have become ineffective, but are still difficult to endure. A referral to hospice means a focus on a patient’s comfort for the rest of his or her life. A referral to hospice can indicate a doctor’s true concern for a patient’s end-of-life experience.

Hospice is a word that can cause one’s ears to perk up. It can get attention. “Did you say… hospice?” But merely hearing the word spoken out loud should not be a cause for fright or anguish. In fact, when a patient is facing a life threatening health crisis, hospice should be discussed early in treatment.

Knowing that hospice is an option, in case treatment of the condition is less than successful, should actually provide reassurance. Learning about hospice and all that hospice care has to offer before hospice is needed can give a patient and family members a clear understanding of the ways hospice can help.

Rather than react with a shudder of fear when the word hospice is spoken, think of hospice as a health care service designed to make people feel better—patients and family members. Hospice care may not be needed now, or soon, or even for a few or several years.

Don’t be scared of hospice. Don’t panic at the mere mention of the word hospice. This is not a frightening word. It should be regarded as a comforting word.

If you have questions about hospice, call us at Hope Hospice in metro St. Louis at 314-984-9800.


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