Hospice care helps those who are sick and the families

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dear editor,

There still seem to be many people who don’t understand the benefits of a person being under the care of hospice.

My husband was a patient of Cahaba Hospice before he died, and I don’t know what I would have done without their care. They offered me solace as well as taking care of his physical needs. When I say his needs, I mean there was someone who came three times a week to bathe him, shampoo his hair, shave him, change his bed and straighten his room. His bed pads, diapers, rubber gloves, certain medications and Ensure were furnished.

A registered nurse came twice a week to check is vital signs, examine his body for bed sores and answer any questions either of us might have and to give us encouragement.

Best of all, I knew that he was getting the very best of care, and he was at home.

Some people feel that if you are under hospice, you have signed a death warrant. This is not true. Of course, there are certain conditions for being under their care. If your doctor believes that the life expectancy is in a terminal state, they qualify. There are patients with cancer who live beyond a six-months stage, but they can remain a patient until such time as when the soul leaves the body.

I don’t know about all groups, but I do know about Cahaba Hospice, and they are absolutely wonderful. There were volunteers, who came to visit with him if I needed to be away from home for awhile. Also, music had always been a very important part of his life, so there were a couple of volunteers, who came and played their instruments for him, and it offered him some relief to have them.

If you feel that your loved one would benefit from this kind of care, I would urge you to discuss it with your doctor, and see if he agrees with you. That’s what I did.

The hospice program relies a lot on volunteers. Volunteering is not only about going to homes and sitting with patients; that is only a small part of the program. There are needs that can be fulfilled at the hospice office, such as sending cards, making telephone calls to patients or calling a grieving family member. Also,

a volunteer can meet the need of a family by providing a cooked dish.

I feel that our true purpose in life should be to try to uplift others and express love in whatever way we can. Being a volunteer is truly a rewarding experience.

Sincerely,

Christine R. Vaughan