New attitude emerging toward hospice care, end-of-life services

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John Wayne fan Betty Countryman, pictured here before her death with her daughter, Peggy Chisam, crossed visiting the new museum in Winterset off her bucket last summer with help from HCI Hospice Care Services.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to raise awareness that hospice isn’t about resignation and defeat — it’s about families actively taking hold of what time is left.

Most people aren’t fully aware of the support hospice can provide to patients of all ages living with a variety of serious illnesses, as well as to their families. And from those who do receive hospice care, the most common statement hospice providers hear is, “We wish we had called hospice sooner.”

Many patients, families and even doctors turn away from or delay seeking hospice care services, and many regret that decision.

HCI logo“Waiting to make the call to hospice is an unfortunate trend hospice providers are seeing across the nation,” said Abi Albrecht, local team director for HCI Hospice Care Services at the Dallas County Hospital in Perry.

Albrecht said hospice care can nurture families and foster deeper connections.

“It’s a real tragedy when people wait too long to call,” she said, “because we can do so much more to support both the patient and the family, such as helping patients cross things off their bucket lists, conducting life reviews, honoring Veterans with special ceremonies and creating meaningful memories, when people take full advantage of the hospice benefit.”

Under Medicare, hospice is a six-month benefit. However, many believe hospice is a place to go when they only have weeks or even days to live.

Hospice is not about ending medical care. Hospice is care intended to harness everything modern medicine has to offer to achieve better quality of life, dignity and comfort. The goal is the amplification of living, not about resignation to dying.

Skilled and compassionate doctors, nurses, hospice aides, social workers, spiritual care counselors, bereavement counselors and volunteers all work together to redefine hope and to help people live better and to live life to the very fullest.

“If your loved one’s illness seems to be getting worse,” Albrecht said, “if everyday activities are becoming more difficult, if your loved one is losing weight, eating less or going to the hospital more frequently, don’t wait. Call hospice.”

Anyone can call HCI Hospice Care Services at 515-465-4705 for information or simply to talk with a nurse. If the time is right for hospice, loved ones will be surrounded by care, with medical supplies and equipment delivered to the home, medications covered, pain and symptoms managed and with quality of life as the top priority.

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