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November is Hospice Awareness Month

Mouse River Journal of Towner, North Dakota

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HAMC November is Hospice Awareness month. As I sit at my desk today. I am asking myself, "What do I want people to be aware of about Hospice?" The word "Hospice" produces a confetti of emotions and thoughts. Some people immediately equate hospice with "dying" and "death". Others think of it as giving up, or throwing in the towel. Most people think Hospice is about the last day or two of life that leads to death. The past three years I have worked with Hospice, I have been confronted with a lot of 'misunderstandings' about hospice, things people believed were true, but in fact are not. So in honor of Hospice awareness month, I would like to address some of these common misconceptions.

Hospice is for the last few days of life.

Hospice is about death and dying.

People on Hospice can't go to the hospital.

People on Hospice are at home waiting to die.

People on Hospice get a lot of pain medicines to make them die faster

Hospice is for the last few days of life, but even more so the last six months of life. The longer a patient is on Hospice, the better able we are to help the patient and family through this difficult time. Hospice is about death and dying, but it is more about living — making the most of every day, focusing on the quality of the days, not the quantity of days. Hospice patients who need help in a hospital setting, get it. We are most concerned about keeping a patient comfortable so they can enjoy the days they have, so if this involves a hospital stay, it will be provided. People on Hospice may be at home because that's their favorite place to be, or they may go on vacation, fishing, visiting, or whatever other place their heart desires. Again, it's about how you live.... Lastly, hospice does use pain medications, but not to HASTEN death. Pain medicines are to reduce pain and promote comfort. They are prescribed by a physician, administered as ordered and monitored by a pharmacist.

We are blessed to live in a community that is so supportive of out Hospice program. It is this support that keeps the Hospice program available for those families who need it. I hope Hospice Awareness month gives, you a deeper awareness of what Hospice is and the great heed it meets in our community. Becky Hershey, RN Hospice Director.



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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015



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