The act of dying is the act of living

June 9, 2011 at 1:09 a.m.

BY CHRISTA ANDERSON CROWN HOSPICE PROGRAM DIRECTORIt is human nature to try to avoid things we fear. Because we are afraid, we tend to avoid thinking about our own mortality. It is time to adjust our thinking about death and dying, which are two of the most debated topics in matters of personal choice.

We cannot choose when or where we are born, but many think that we should be able to choose the time and method of our own death, especially if we are very sick and suffering.

Hospice services are provided by trained professionals in palliative, or comfort care and management of end-of-life diseases and symptoms.

All hospice providers approach the end-of-life experience in a holistic manner, which encompasses the medical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of care.

According to a posting from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in 2010, the average survival rate was 29 days longer for hospice patients than for a non-hospice patient.

In other words, patients who chose hospice care lived an average of one month longer than similar patients who did not choose hospice care.

Hospice continues to battle the taboo of death; there's an inaccurate perception among the public that hospice means you've given up. Researchers have cited several factors that may have contributed to longer life among patients who chose hospice.

First, patients who are already in a weakened condition avoid the risks of over-treatment when they make the decision to receive hospice care. Second, hospice care may improve the quality of life and indeed prolong the lives of people receiving care with the monitoring and treatment patients receive.

Additionally, hospice provides in-home care from an interdisciplinary team focused on the emotional needs, spiritual well-being, and physical health of the patient. Support and training for family caregivers is provided as well.

This may increase the patient's desire to continue living and may make them feel less of a burden to family members.

All hospice agencies work within the guidelines set forth by Medicare. The basic services they provide are the same across the board. This may leave you wondering why it would even matter which hospice agency you choose. But there are differences, and they're often tucked away in the small details.

It's important to do a little research from the start to find where those differences lie.

Lastly, non-profit and for-profit status of the hospice company defines how the agency obtains its major source of funding, but does not define the quality of service it provides or the type of patients it accepts. This is part of researching your right in determining which agency fits your life and goals for end-of-life care.

If you have any questions or would like resources in regards to researching, please call Christa Anderson at 361-575-5900 or email



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