Monthly Archives: November 2014

Your Freedom To Experience Grief

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Holidays can be emotional and painful for those who have recently lost loved ones. One less seat at the Thanksgiving table is a reality for many as this week’s holiday approaches.

Dealing with grief is part of the mission of Hope Hospice. Chaplain John Wilson has made available a list of Twelve Freedoms of Grief written by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, author of several books about grief.

The gist of his message is that grief is a natural human condition and all of us have the freedom to grieve.

At the top of his list is: You have the freedom to realize your grief is unique. When friends and other family members compare their own grieving experiences to yours, they may suggest that you should be ready to move on. Or they may be surprised by a perceived lack of sadness and sorrow on your part. Your circumstances and your support system are likely to impact your grief and will cause your grief to be unlike that of others.

Another freedom of grief from Dr. Wolfelt: You have the freedom to feel a multitude of emotions. If you feel disorientation, sadness, guilt, anger, relief or any other emotion following the death of a loved one, it’s okay. You may experience all these emotions within a short period of time, causing confusion. Dr. Wolfelt reminds us that these are normal responses to death.

You have the freedom to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits
, writes Dr. Wolfelt. He suggests that making sure you eat right and get enough sleep can help you get through this difficult time. If grief has made it hard for you to get things done, acknowledge your fatigue and realize that you may not get everything accomplished that you might like to.

Another important freedom from Dr. Wolfelt: You have the freedom to cherish your memories. As you gather this Thanksgiving, talk about the loved one who has passed away. Share stories that may bring laughter as well as those that may bring tears. He says, “Memories…remind you that love never ends.”

If you are dealing with grief and would like a copy of the Twelve Freedoms of Grief, call John Wilson at Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

Hope Hospice serves patients and families in St. Louis city and county and in Jefferson, St. Charles and Franklin counties. Call Hope Hospice for any questions you may have about hospice care in metro St. Louis. 314-984-9800.

(photo credit: eflon via photopin cc)

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Let’s Talk About Death

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A new report called Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life was issued in September by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

Among the major determinations in the report are these two important points:

“Most people near the end of life are not physically, mentally of cognitively able to make their own decisions about care. The majority of these patients will receive acute hospital care from physicians who do not know them. Therefore, advance planning is essential to ensure that patients receive care reflecting their values, goals and preferences.”

“Not only do most Americans lack knowledge about end-of-life care choices, but the health community and other leaders have not fully utilized strategies to make that knowledge available, meaningful and relevant across diverse population groups.”

The report suggests that all Americans begin talking about death and end-of-life choices early and often. When? At major life milestones, even if they occur well before old age or life-threatening conditions are factors.

As a Newsweek article about the report states: “The ultimate goal is to ‘normalize conversations about death and dying,’ so that people are more comfortable discussing and preparing for the eventual situation.”

If hospice care is a “somewhere down the road” possibility for you, your spouse, your parent or other loved one, it is vital to have conversations now. Conversations with family members. Conversations with your doctors.

Make you wishes known and take note of those expressed by other family members. These wishes should be revisited from time to time to make sure that desires are clearly stated and understood. Also, an individual’s thoughts may change over time.

Death is inevitable. Even though you may plan to be around a few more decades, things can change in a heartbeat, literally. Talking about death now (and again later) allows you and your loved ones to approach the ends of your respective lives with confidence that your wishes will be honored.

For information about hospice care, call us at Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. We serve patients and families in St. Louis city and county and Jefferson, St. Charles and Franklin counties.

(photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ahartfie/8305950976/, http://photopin.com, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)

 

Veterans Day 2014

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Veterans Day is a special day on the Hope Hospice calendar. Each year, we offer recognition to our patients who are U.S. military veterans. But we also work to honor the veterans on our patient list every day of the year.

Our staff members have received We Honor Veterans training to help them deal with the special needs of veterans. This includes learning about our country’s wars and conflicts. Giving our team a sense what these men and women may have experienced helps them better relate to veterans. Recognizing differences in attitudes regarding various military engagements is also important.

Awareness of PTSD and other conditions that may have affected their lives is vital. Such knowledge allows our staffers to provide the best hospice care to veterans.

Of course, not all U.S. veterans were involved in battle. Many served their entire military careers stateside in support positions. We honor and value their service to our nation as important contributors to maintaining our freedom.

On Veterans Day 2014, members of the Hope Hospice staff will personally visit with each of our patients who are veterans. Chaplains John Wilson and Danny Loesch and social worker Jill Stuckey will tell the vets how much their service to our country is appreciated. And, if a veteran wants to talk about time spent in uniform, our staff members will listen.

It has been our experience that U.S. veterans always welcome our thanks for all they have done for us, even if they’ve heard us say it before.

We encourage you, especially on Veterans Day, to thank a veteran for his or her service to America. Because, honestly, we cannot thank these individuals enough.

For answers to your questions about hospice care in metro St. Louis, call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. Hope Hospice serves patients and families in St. Louis city and county and Jefferson, St. Charles and Franklin counties.

(Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thesuperstar/6334602820, http://photopin.com, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0)

 

 

 

 

 

November—Time To Learn About Hospice

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November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to call attention to hospice care in America and the people and organizations that provide that care. Hospice education is an ongoing effort. We at Hope Hospice take every opportunity we can to reach out to the St. Louis community and explain what hospice is and what it is not.

It is encouraging that information and knowledge about hospice is growing. More people have had a relative or friend on hospice care. We find, though, that as more people learn about hospice, misconceptions continue to exist.

Among the biggest misconceptions:

Hospice is a place. While in-patient hospice facilities do exist, almost all hospice care in the U.S. is administered in private homes and in care centers (nursing homes and assisted living facilities).

Hospice is only for the very last days of life. When a determination is made that a person has a life expectancy of 6 months or less, a patient can become eligible for hospice care. Because prognoses can be imprecise, many patients stay on hospice care for more than 6 month.

Hospice care is expensive. Hospice care is a fully-covered Medicare benefit.

Hospice is only for cancer patients. Many hospice patients ARE cancer patients. But other patients have conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to congestive heart failure to kidney failure.

If a patient lives beyond the initial 6-month period, he or she will be dropped from hospice care. After 6-months, a patient must be recertified. If life expectancy is still 6 months or less, hospice care can continue.

A patient can only receive hospice care from a hospice that he or she is referred to. Families and patients may prefer another hospice, based on recommendations from friends, family and neighbors. There are significant differences among hospices.

The only reason to go on hospice is to get pain medication. A major goal of hospice care is to assure a patient’s comfort. But hospice care is a complete team program that includes spiritual and emotional components. It’s not just about the meds.

Again, the sentences above in bold face are misconceptions. During this month, we encourage you to take time to learn more about hospice care.

In metro St. Louis, call us at Hope Hospice for questions and concerns about hospice care. Reach us at 314-984-9800.