No one ever wants to have to think about what life would be like with a serious, terminal illness. But as with most things in life, we don’t always get to choose exactly what path our lives will take. One thing we can choose, however, is how we will face life’s challenges.
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time set aside to raise awareness of the resources and services available through the many qualified hospice centers across the United States. This year’s theme, “It’s About How You Live,” is very appropriate, as the goal of both hospice and palliative care is to improve the quality of life for any patients needing those particular services.
Understanding how to improve quality of life during a terminal illness first comes with understanding the basics of hospice and palliative care.
Hospice Care provides not only medical care but also care for a person’s spiritual and emotional needs as they suffer from a terminal illness, to help that person live as well as possible for as long as possible. Hospice care can be given either at a hospice facility or in a person’s home.
Palliative Care is specialized medical care meant to optimize the quality of life for people suffering from a serious, complex illness.
Talk with Your Loved Ones
One way to help ensure that you have the quality of life you desire, and to make hospice care “about how you live,” is to spend time now talking with your loved ones about your desires. It’s important to have an advance directive, so that if and when something does happen, like a stroke or a cancer diagnosis, your family knows your medical wishes and your plans for end-of-life care.
We have a great resource here in the Piedmont Triad for help with these types of discussions and plans. Atrium Wake Forest Baptist Health, Novant Health, and Trellis Supportive Care have teamed up to create the website www.GotPlans123.org. This site contains extensive resources to help you have discussions with loved ones about your plans, as well as detailed instructions on how to create an advance directive. There are also virtual workshops available and seven videos to help understand the why and how to of advance directives.
Find Local Resources
In addition to working on advance directives, it is important to have information readily available on where your local hospice resources are located and how to get in touch with the caregivers and the facilities.
Some of the local hospice and palliative care services in our area include Trellis Supportive Care, AuthoraCare Collective, Hospice of the Piedmont, and Mountain Valley Hospice.