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LETTERS: November is hospice awareness month

November is hospice awareness month

To the editor:

During the holidays or on other special occasions, many gather with family and friends. More often than not, these gatherings include the telling and re-telling of family stories, observations of how a child’s behavior or expressions mirrors that of other family members, sharing of recipes and traditions that have been handed down generation to generation, and remembrances of those who are no longer alive.

This emphasis on remembrance, while present during joyful times, also plays an important role in difficult times, especially at the end of life. Studies have shown that, when faced with a life-limiting illness, most people are more concerned about the impact it will have on their family than themselves.

By focusing on the individual, not the illness, hospice care honors life’s final journey. Hospice brings comfort and peace to help people live every moment of life to the fullest, leaving loved ones with memories they can treasure.

Losing a loved one is always hard. However, having support and care especially tailored to the end of life can help bring special moments that otherwise might not be possible.

Hospice professionals and volunteers understand that every person they care for is a unique individual with a lifetime of experiences, relationships, and gifts to share. Those who choose hospice care are treated to additional one-on-one care including respect and dignity wherever they call home — their personal home or long-term care. The family and loved ones are guided through the grief process and supported for 13 months after their loved one’s death — ensuring the family and loved ones are left with a legacy of compassion and caring.

One of our jobs as hospice medical doctors is to promote hospice awareness. This should not be a hard task, as most people do not know what to expect when we talk about hospice services. They usually haven an image of a nurse sitting at a dying person’s bedside. That is only a small part of what hospice teams do.

We say “team” because it is just that. November is National Hospice/Palliative Care Month, a time to celebrate those who provide hospice care to our communities and help raise awareness of quality care at the end of life for patients and their families.

Benjamin Dolezal, M.D.
James Larzalere, M.D.
Associate medical doctors
Hospice Care of Kansas

Last modified Nov. 25, 2009

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