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As members of the Sandwich Generation dealing with the issues of caring for elderly parents, Hospice and Palliative Care are terms likely to come up in your family. If you’re not familiar with them, the words might not mean much to you. Or perhaps they send shudders down your spine since you know they deal with providing an end of life comfort and care strategy. Really though, the hospice services program is about living. It’s about living peacefully while God allows you to finish your time here on earth, before He takes you gently home. It’s about support for the patient and the patient’s family. It’s about encouragement, assistance, and caring.
I have dealt personally with a hospice services program for my sweet dad who was able to remain at home for his final two months. He had always dreaded the thought of a nursing home. He also feared going through what he watched a dear friend suffer by having to go back and forth to the hospital in the traditional way of years past. He didn’t want tubes in his nose nor did he want extraordinary measures. He just wanted to stay home and be surrounded by those who loved him. Hospice made that possible.
As part of the palliative care nursing, they provided for a nurse to come regularly to check on his condition. They provided an aide twice a week to bathe him and help us with the personal needs she had. They were available on-call for information and advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They made sure he had enough medicine to not suffer. When one of the medications caused a bad reaction, they were there immediately to help figure out what was wrong and make the necessary changes.
A social worker was also provided. This woman came out and explained what was going on, gave all the options available to our family, and willingly did research for us if we had any questions she couldn’t answer. They walked us through every step, patiently and gently. They knew that just starting the process is very difficult emotionally, for both patient and family. They were there for us and we were so grateful.
A few years later, my girlfriend went through a similar process with a different hospice services program. The main difference was that her mom was already living in an assisted care facility. Her mom was able to stay where she was and hospice nurses and other staff came in and worked with the family and the care facility staff to provide for the needs they had. Again, she saw numerous examples of them going out of their way to help.
I know that no one is perfect, but I do think that the vast majority of people who choose to work for palliative care and a hospice services program are very special people working hard to provide a precious gift to all of us. The gift of helping those who are dying to live their last days here on earth as positively as possible. And the gift of kind and gentle support to a scared and worried family who loves the patient. For that we, in this Sandwich Generation family, are so very thankful.