Understanding when you should call hospice

You just found out you have a limited life expectancy. Let’s say six months to a year. Here’s the kicker: You get to choose how you spend this time. What does that look like to you?

Maybe you would like to be surrounded by family and friends. Perhaps you want to mend some broken relationships before it is too late. You probably would like to be comfortable and free of as much pain as possible. What about the comfort of your own surroundings? Of course, you want your cat (or is it a dog or rabbit or bird?) to cheer you up daily. And the last thing you want to worry about is how and where to get that hospital bed and other equipment, not to mention paying for it.

You have just described hospice. Surprised? At Hospice of Anchorage, we hear time and again from people who have used our services, “I wish we would have called sooner.’’ Not calling sooner was their biggest regret.

Why call sooner? So that you, your family and loved ones can reap all the benefits hospice care has to offer. If you wait to call hospice until the last days or weeks of your loved one’s life, you will miss out on having a team help you through the process. Hospice works best when there are months rather than days to establish relationships and support.

While many hesitate to call because they feel like they are giving up all hope, we try to help them understand that they are doing their loved ones and themselves a great service by calling sooner. The more time we have with a patient and their family, the better. With months, not days, our hospice team has more time to devote to a quality end-of-life experience.

Hospice of Anchorage provides:

Nurse Educator:  Nurse consultation and education about symptom management and caregiving.

Coordination: Coordination with your physician and other professionals to ensure smooth communication and effective care.

Support:  Emotional, spiritual and grief support, as desired, for both you and those close to you. Grief support can be ongoing for your loved ones.

Assistance: Assistance navigating financial, legal and planning issues from a qualified social worker.

Care Assistant:  Caregiver assistance provided by professional personal care assistants (PCAs) supported by the Alaska Senior In-Home Services program for qualifying families.

Compassionate Companion:  Compassionate companions are trained volunteers who do a variety of activities dependent on client interest. Some volunteers provide specialized services such as massage or pet therapy.

Free Resources for Alaskans:

Lending Library

Loan Closet

Advance Directives

Dementia Care: Robotic pets, fidget blankets, music players, tool kits

Transportation Assistance

Rx Assistance

For more information on Hospice of Anchorage services, call 907-561-5322 or email info@hospiceofanchorage.org.

Amy Tribbett is the Hospice of Anchorage Executive Director.