COLUMN: Hospice patients still need other people

Published 7:30 am Saturday, October 28, 2023

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At times, it isn’t easy to know what to say when you hear someone has been admitted to hospice. Sometimes, there is the tendency to shy away from them and keep a protective distance. However, remember that there is still life to live, and people need people. They are still your family, your friends, your acquaintances.

Vickie Wacaster, Patient and Hospice Advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice)

Yet, please remember that each hospice patient and family will deal with this experience uniquely. Some will discuss their illness/disease and concerns openly, while others will not. If you visit them, be a good listener, be respectful, and follow their lead. Also, when visiting, please be conscious of the time. You may want to keep your visits shorter than you would otherwise, but your health and theirs permitting, see them.

Furthermore, you must resist the urge to instruct or set expectations about how anyone should feel or deal with the situation. If you need to console a hospice patient or their family, tell them you love them. Please do not place the burden of comforting you or meeting your expectations upon them. Although you care and may feel you are walking with them — this is their journey, and they have the right to do it their way.

On another note, do not be offended or take it personally if visits and phone calls are limited. As we all know, there are times when a patient and family need rest and uninterrupted time. Please be respectful of this. If you cannot visit or call, you may send a card, and if it is a generic card, make sure you personalize it with a heartfelt message.

Remember, it is okay to cry with those who are hurting, and when appropriate and following their lead, it is okay to laugh with those who are hurting. You can help with the tasks of everyday living by preparing food and delivering it to them. You may also contribute your time to cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, mowing their lawn, or weeding their garden. These things still need doing and will bear witness you care and want to help in practical ways.

If you would like more information about hospice, don’t hesitate to contact the hospice of your choice or contact me to schedule a time to discuss the services, programs, and benefits of hospice care.

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” — John Bunyan

— Vickie C. Wacaster is a patient and hospice advocate for Aveanna Hospice.