Hospice Can Help Sooner Than You Think

When her mother was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, Nicole Antoinette, a nurse technician with nearly 20 years of experience, knew that time was of the essence in ensuring her mother was cared for with love through her final days. Nicole had been her mother’s sole caregiver, but she knew it was time to find help and turned to Alive.

“Everything was done with care and reverence to the woman my mother was to us. It was a confidence builder,” said Nicole.

When Can Hospice Help?

Nicole now lends her voice to educate her community about hospice services and the value in seeking care as soon as possible. Most patients and families wait far longer than they should to access this support. Hospice care is available as soon as a cure is no longer possible, and a terminal diagnosis is made. Then the focus of care becomes comfort and quality of life, which is what hospice excels in.

“Advocating for our community, which may be misinformed or underinformed, is important. Being proactive is better than being reactive,” said Nicole. “The earlier we educate ourselves about the transition out of the physical world, the better off we are.”

Treasuring Every Moment

Hospice care is a specialized field of medicine that focuses on quality of life and comfort. Patients and their loved ones are cared for by an entire team consisting of a nurse, doctor, certified nursing assistant, social worker, chaplain, and volunteers. They are all experts in end-of-life care and know how to make patients as comfortable as possible. Grief counselors are also available to support family members before and after a death.

Many people simply don’t realize that hospice care is *not* just for the final days of life. It is available to patients for several months and sometimes even longer.

Others fear that choosing hospice means “giving up” on a loved one. But the truth is, most of the families who come to us, say they wish they had come sooner.

Hospice care is covered by most insurance, and the sooner you start receiving this specialized medical support, the sooner you can go back to being a family and making the most of your precious time together.

So, when is the right time?

A patient is eligible for hospice care when they receive a diagnosis of a terminal illness. Signs that it may be time to ask your doctor about hospice include:

  • Frequent hospitalizations or trips to the ER
  • Frequent or reoccurring infections
  • Reduced desire to eat, leading to significant weight loss and changes in body composition
  • Rapid decline in health over past six months, even with aggressive medical treatments
  • Uncontrolled pain, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting
  • Decreasing alertness, withdrawal, increased sleeping or mental confusion
  • Inability to perform tasks of daily living, such as eating, walking, using the bathroom, personal cleaning or getting dressed
  • Desire to focus on your comfort and quality of life rather than on the treatment of your illness

If you have questions about hospice eligibility or the admission process, we are happy to help.

Alive was the third hospice in the country and the first in the Southeast. Founders Dr. John Flexner and Dr. David Barton are now members of the Tennessee Healthcare Hall of Fame for this pioneering contribution to end-of-life care. They envisioned a model of excellent clinical care delivered hand in hand with the emotional and spiritual support needed to navigate the end of a life. They saw a space where laughter could coexist with tears, where life would be celebrated, even as death was prepared for.

We are proud to carry on their legacy. Today, Alive is a trusted community institution with the privilege of providing comfort and peace at the end of life to our friends and neighbors in Middle Tennessee.

If you think you or a loved one might be eligible for hospice care, please contact us at any time for more information: 615-327-1085

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