Category Archives: Hospice

How a Daughter Helped Her Mom Face Death

Finding truth at mortality’s threshold [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Aimee Ross

“I have a question for you, Aim,” Mom said from her blue La-Z-Boy. “How did you stay so positive during everything you went through?”

This takes me by surprise. “Uh, Prozac?” I joke, and she laughs.

She needs to laugh. I know she is scared and depressed, awaiting her next chemo treatment. Twenty years ago, she battled uterine cancer, but stayed cancer-free ever since, a miracle. Three months ago, she was diagnosed with cancer again: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “I’m serious,” Mom said, and my brain begins its search for an answer. read more

Facing Down the Biggest Fear of All

Senior woman gazes pensively into the distance while the sun sets behind her

5 ways to conquer your fear of death and age courageously (Photo credit: Adobe Stock)

By Ken Druck for Next Avenue

(Editor’s note: This essay is part of a series from author and speaker Ken Druck, based on work in his book Courageous Aging, which is about how all people can make peace with, and find joy in, every stage of life.)

Our fear of death begins when we’re kids. Perhaps we had to face the mystifying idea of impermanence when a beloved pet, parent or grandparent died. The stark reality that this loved one was really gone — and gone forever, was both devastating and terrifying. From early childhood, when we’re introduced to the concept of “futureless-ness” — that is, old age and eventually death, there are few things as difficult for us to deal with. Facing down the fear of dying requires great strength, humility and spiritual fortitude. But, as you will see, it’s worth the effort. read more

What to Say to Someone Who’s Dying

Make sure your last conversation is one you won’t regret (Photo credit: Getty Images)

By Jill Smolowe for Next Avenue

My friend’s distress was acute. For weeks she’d been running herself ragged, attending to her ailing octogenarian father.

Daily visits to the hospital had given way to frantic efforts to turn his apartment into a home hospice after he made clear that he wanted to return to his apartment. Now, with a hospital bed and 24/7 nursing care in place, the countdown had begun. There was no “if” about his imminent demise. The only question was: How much longer does he have? read more

Tom Petty and Your End-of-Life Wishes

Tom Petty performs on stage, playing a guitar and singing

What you and your family can learn from the rock legend’s death [Photo credit: TomPetty.com]

By Elizabeth Newcomb for Next Avenue

After rock legend Tom Petty was found unconscious and in cardiac arrest Oct. 2, he could not be revived, his manager said on Petty’s official website. Petty died peacefully later that day at UCLA Medical Center. Whether his family decided to take him off life support due to a do-not-resuscitate order, as reported by another source, has not been confirmed. But the loss of the 66-year-old musician serves as a reminder that tragic events can happen no matter one’s age or seeming good health. read more

Heart and Soul Hospice recognizes Hospice Month

November is National Hospice Month, and to recognize the importance of hospice services to quality end of life care, we’d like to share this story from Presbyterian Manor’s Heart and Soul Hospice.

It was not long after Clayton was diagnosed with a life limiting illness that he was told that curative treatment was no longer an option. Clayton quickly made the decision to seek hospices services.  At first, Clayton thought hospice was a way to avoid burdening his family with his illness.

Clayton soon began to understand that by deciding to utilize hospice, he had put together a supportive team for himself and his entire family. Together, Clayton, his family, and the hospice team created a plan of care that included Clayton’s medical needs as well as emotional and spiritual needs for himself and his family. read more

Why I call my Dad even if it’s not Father’s Day

My phone calls to him used to be obligatory, but loss has a way of changing things

By Jill Smolowe for Next Avenue

Jill Smolowe with her father

Caption: Jill Smolowe with her father

When I was a college undergraduate, I used to call my parents every Thursday night. The calls were mandatory, the price of college tuition, so to speak. Invariably, my mother would answer, then yell, “Dick! Pick up! It’s Jill.”

Nothing of substance was ever said about my coursework. And certainly I wasn’t going to tell them who I was sleeping with or what I was smoking. So, I remember not one thing about these phone calls beyond this: both of my parents were on the line, I was itchy to get off so I could get back to my life and any parental input pretty much came from my mother. read more

The quiet blessing of grief that never ends

This writer finds beauty in the pain she feels over the loss of her sister

By Jill Smolowe for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

In the almost seven years since I laid my husband to rest, followed barely a year later by the loss of my sister and mother, I’ve developed an appreciation for just how unpredictable and, well, amazing grief can be.

I’m not talking about the period of hollowing when the shock and fog of loss clouds every thought and informs every waking (and perhaps sleeping) moment. No, I’m talking about the grief that comes after that. After the deceased loved one’s absence is no longer a constant presence. After the acute ache subsides and then, unthinkably, stills. After life moves forward, opening new melancholy-free vistas that trace no connection to the departed. read more

Don’t let fear stop you from end-of-life planning

It’s natural to procrastinate, but make this a priority for your loved ones

By Debbie Reslock for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

When I was in my early 20s, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. It felt like a one-two punch, since my dad had died unexpectedly a few years earlier. Although Mom tried chemotherapy, the results seemed to suggest that this was going to end badly, which it did — less than six months later.

During that time, her life became a mere shadow of what it once was. And yet no one, including her doctors, myself or my mom, ever talked about what was happening.

Only in the last few days did her doctor suggest to me, not her, that we were reaching the end of this painful road. And then he asked if I thought she’d be more comfortable at home or in the hospital. I remember how angry I was, unprepared to make this decision and wanting to scream, “Why are you asking me?” But of course when I got older, I realized the real question was why hadn’t any of us asked her? read more

How to prevent a real life nightmare at life’s end

A Next Avenue Influencer in Aging urges conversations around death

By Barbara Coombs Lee for Next Avenue

How-To-Prevent-Real-Life-Nightmare-web

Credit: Thinkstock

Editor’s note: This article is part of Next Avenue’s 2015 Influencers in Aging project honoring 50 people changing how we age and think about aging. 

To my everlasting shame, this boomer spent many of her formative years as an ICU nurse, thoughtlessly pushing tubes down the noses and pounding on chests of dying patients, torturing them with electric shocks, instead of allowing death to come peacefully.

The tragic reality is people who do not communicate their values and priorities for end-of-life care often pay dearly for this failure, by enduring futile, agonizing tests and treatments that only prolong the dying process. It is equally important for people to empower a loved one in writing to be their decision-maker if they are unable to speak for themselves. read more

Common myths of hospice debunked

Five things you may think about hospice that aren’t true

By Jacob Edward for Next Avenue

Hospice-Misconceptions

In the past 40 years, attitudes towards death and dying in America and much of the rest of the world have slowly changed. The hospice movement has grown considerably and now constitutes its own segment of the health care system. Prior to hospice, people often died alone, in institutional settings like hospitals.

While some people still pass away without their loved ones around them, many are choosing to receive palliative care at home as a way to make the end of their lives as comfortable and rewarding as possible. But there are still many common misconceptions about hospice. Nobody likes to dwell on the subject of death, so people are naturally reluctant to study what hospice care is until they are in need of hospice services. read more