The Hospice Approach at the End-Of-Life
By Bryan Mcnutt, Director of Family and Support Services for Silverado Hospice, San Diego
For many of us, at some point in our life, we will be faced with the challenging adjustment of experiencing a chronic disease of terminally life-limiting illness. For some of us, our initial introduction to this is vicariously faced trough the life of someone we love. For example, the adjustment of learning how to adequately provide care for the elderly or ailing parent initiates many adult children into a new sense of relational responsibility and family role that can be developmentally significant and practically demanding.
Similarly, facing the adjustment of assuming the task as the primary caregiver for a spouse, partner, or intimate friend that is experiencing a life-limiting illness can challenge a caregiver’s sense of commitment, resilience, and obligation they may feel towards their loved one. The realities of a practical, emotional, and spiritual adjustment that a caregiver faces often bring challenges, as well as opportunities, to their life. It is quite common for caregivers to experience feelings that resemble grief, including anxiety, fear, exhaustion, depression, anger, sadness, and fantasies of escape. However, providing care for a loved one can also offer an opportunity for learning how to appreciate the simple and more meaningful aspects of life, and taking notice of the precious moments of connection we may share with a loved one.
For individuals who are facing a terminally life-limiting illness, the choice of hospice care provides an experience treatment that is focused on how to best enhance quality of life during the time remaining at the end of life. Hospice is not a place. Rather, it is an approach to care and a way of being with others during the end of their life. Hospice is mindful of considering how to most effectively address and care for the multifaceted dimensions of human experience, including one’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.
While the focus of care is directed primarily upon the needs and concerns of the individual patient, hospice also considers how to best support the needs and concerns of those family members or significant relationships that are intimately involved in the daily care and overall support of the patient.
Silverado Hospice recognizes that the process of adapting to a loved one’s illness can be extremely challenging, particularly for those that are providing direct care. The professional hospice team makes an effort to assist caregivers with recognizing how not to lose sight of caring for themselves, while they continue to care for their loved one. In this way, hospice strives to make the last chapter of life an experience that is meaningful and supportive, where love is greater than fear.
*Bryan Mcnutt's article orginally appeared in GSDBA’s Community Connection Newsletter.