Wednesday, February 22, 2017

SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Palliative, hospice, and the care offered by Hosparus.

Today I'll be departing from the polemical template, refraining from the edgy boilerplate, and getting personal.

By making sure we understand today's words and concepts, you'll also glimpse my mother Sue Baylor's relative position these days in terms of her journey through life.

(Of a medicine or medical care) relieving pain without dealing with the cause of the condition.

A home providing care for the sick, especially the terminally ill.

Here is an easy explanation.

The differences between hospice and palliative care.

Hospice care and palliative care are very similar when it comes to the most important issue for dying people: care. Most people have heard of hospice care and have a general idea of what services hospice provides. What they don’t know or what may become confusing is that hospice provides “palliative care,” and that palliative care is both a method of administering “comfort” care and increasingly, an administered system of palliative care offered most prevalently by hospitals. As an adjunct or supplement to some of the more “traditional” care options, both hospice and palliative care protocols call for patients to receive a combined approach where medications, day-to-day care, equipment, bereavement counseling, and symptom treatment are administered through a single program. Where palliative care programs and hospice care programs differ greatly is in the care location, timing, payment, and eligibility for services.

Probably most readers are familiar with Hosparus.

About Hosparus

Hosparus is a fully accredited provider of premier hospice services and one of the largest non-profit hospice organizations in the country. We are here for patients and families who choose to have the best quality of life possible until the end of life.

We offer medical care, individual and family counseling, personal care, spiritual care, bereavement services, pain management and much more.

We have been serving the needs of this community since 1978 when Hosparus accepted its first patient. This year, we will care for nearly 6,200 patients and their families in the 33 counties we serve in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Hosparus cares for all – regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, sexual preference, age, handicap or ability to pay. Care is delivered through a team-oriented approach and is tailored to patient needs and wishes. Support is provided to families and loved ones as well. Hosparus supports the best possible quality of life for patients and their loved ones and is based on a caring, not curing model of care.

Now that we're firm on concepts, it's time for the rest of the story.

The Villages at Historic Silvercrest has been my mother's home since 2014. She began on the independent living floor, then went to assisted living. Earlier this year, she suffered a particularly nasty urinary tract infection on top of symptoms of dementia that have been stealthily gathering steam, and while there isn't a specifically catastrophic diagnosis like cancer, it is clear that her body is giving out on her.

Consequently, as of today mom is a Hosparus patient. She will remain at Silvercrest, with Hosparus staff coming to her. Visitors are welcome, and should inquire at the front desk as to her current location, because she'll soon be moved from the rehabilitation floor to a different room, and the destination isn't yet known. She has good days and bad. It's the way this works. She's asleep a lot, and has no pain.

During my mom's career as a teacher, she prided herself on professionalism and organization (a gene that didn't migrate to me, not one single bit). She always kept her affairs in order, and never refrained from openness and communication about her wishes at the present juncture.

liv·ing will
ˈliviNG ˈˌwil/
A written statement detailing a person's desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent, especially an advance directive.

In this as in so many other facets of life, the mantra for 2017 is simple: one foot in front of the other, and one day at a time.

My mom did well for a farm girl from Western Kentucky, and she's had a good life. These likely are her final days, weeks and perhaps even months; there's no way of knowing the cosmic and karmic schedule. I'm grateful for the existence of Hosparus in assisting in the transition, thankful for whatever time is left to my mother, and thinking that it's time I learned from her example.

I'll be back next week with the usual sass directed toward the usual suspects, but until then, we all have homework. Do you have an updated last will or living will?

If not, my advice is to get to it. We are.

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