Vail Daily letter: Important conversations
Amid the outreach hospices are doing in communities across the country this November for National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, Home Care and Hospice of the Valley is emphasizing the importance of quality of end-of-life care for all Americans, regardless of age, diagnoses or location of care. This includes starting conversations about your end of life wishes.
During the month on November, there will be a couple of opportunities for you to attend a seminar called “The Conversation Project: A Good Death or a Hard One — Let’s Talk!” This is an engagement campaign to get everyone’s end-of-life wishes expressed and respected. These conversations are difficult but necessary. Conversations should not take place only at the end of life but throughout life. Waiting until the end is not productive. It can cause more family dynamics and complicated grief in the end.
Hospice care provides expert pain management, symptom control, psycho-social support and spiritual care to patients and families when a cure is not possible. All the necessary medicines and equipment needed to keep a patient comfortable are provided. Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid in most states, and by most insurance plans and HMOs. Hospice and palliative care providers take the time to talk with patients and family caregivers, listen to their concerns and work to ensure they get the care they want at the end-of-life. One way that we can ensure that a patient’s wishes are followed is by having conversations with the patient and family to understand their wishes. For example, where does the patient want to receive care, what matters most to the patient, and what role does a patient want their loved ones to play? Talking about their hopes and dreams is also important and can allow the patient and family the opportunity to explore topics that perhaps have been avoided.
Sixty percent of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is “extremely important.” Fifty-six percent have not communicated their end of life wishes. One conversation can make all the difference. “If it is a chapter, you can write it. You can work with it. If it is a final moment to be feared at all cost, then you spend the end in horrible fear and you grieve terribly instead of finding an opportunity.” (“Consider the Conversation” documentary) Hospice is about quality of life. With the help of hospice and palliative care, patients and families can focus on what is most important, living as fully as possible in spite of illness. Please join me for a guided conversation about how to talk with your loved ones about what matters most in your life. On Wednesday, we are meeting at the Edwards Interfaith Chapel from 6-8 p.m. On Nov. 17, we are meeting at the Eagle River Presbyterian Church from 6-8 p.m. If you have any questions or would like to RSVP, please call Home Care and Hospice of the Valley at 970-569-7455. I am happy to talk with you.
Celynn McClarrinon, LSW