Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Benefits of Hospice.

As I prepare to begin my own hospice training and volunteering, I read Jane Brody's column with curiosity and sober preparation. I saw her speak at the Compassion & Choices conference in DC in October. She was wise and lovely. You can find the entire article here. Here's a clip:

Hospice workers never know what they may find when they enter the homes of people whose doctors expect them to die within six months. But they are prepared to handle almost anything and have a team of specialists to call upon when needed: doctor, nurse, social worker, spiritual care counselor, bereavement counselor. The home hospice service is but a phone call away 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The needs of patients and families are met within hours, if not sooner; moreover, the cost is usually covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

With hospice, death assumes a more natural trajectory, unencumbered by frightening machines and sometimes grotesque interventions of modern medicine that do little, if anything, to prolong life and often make dying more painful for patients and families, as well as costlier for society.

Indeed, studies have shown that, all other things being equal, patients receiving the comfort care provided by hospice tend to live longer and die more peacefully than those who continue to get intensive care for their disease when treatment has ceased to help.



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