The microphone clumsily danced before me as I sat in as a guest on a radio show this morning to discuss National Hospice Month, holiday grief, and advanced directives. After previewing the Facing Death PBS special, my thoughts were not collectively focused on the normal promotion of hospice services.
Why was hospice only mentioned once in a show about death and dying? More to the point, why was it mentioned in the context of “we can send you home with hospice….(pause)….or not”. The solution in my mind is obvious and quite helpful to referring physicians. Look at the patient and family, begin with the usual “we can send you home with hospice” and remove the pause and the “or not”. When hospice is mentioned say, “I would like for you to talk to someone from hospice so you can better understand what is available for you and your family and then you can make a more informed decision”. My supposition is that the palliative care teams would have loved to have at least received an honorable mention. We haven’t come quite as far as I thought in the hospice and palliative care field.
Perhaps the local listening audience of the financial wealth management show wondered why hospice would be on a financial show. Ironically, I can make hospice fit into any show because of the holistic services provided by the hospice benefit. I once spoke immediately following an entertainment segment and very easily related it to hospice. During that particular show I spoke about making dreams come true for those who are in their last days of life, taking flowers to patients, and serenity that spills over the family when hospice becomes a word of comfort rather than a word to be feared.
The wealth management show went well as we discussed leaving a legacy of peace. The most important gifts we can leave our family and friends is making decisions about our finances, health care directives, and discussions that reveal our values and memories. Once we give of these actions, we create peace for those we leave behind. Most of the younger patients tend to ask first about financial concerns (unless they are in severe pain). “Can someone help me find out about my life insurance?” or “Will you help me with my disability application?” are common inquiries prior to asking anything health related. Financial questions require the resources that hospice social workers can address and contribute to the course of counseling and support necessary to bring comfort to the patient.
The north georgia mountains a.m. morning show does not reach the magnitude of people that PBS does, but maybe today the show was just as valuable.
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