Central PA Medicine - Summer 2017 - 17

daup h i n c m s .o rg

™

Despite heart surgery a few years earlier, mom's problems remained,
requiring ongoing trips to the emergency room. The hospitalists
never admitted her but finally referred her to a nursing home for
one month of rehab.
At first things were great - we picnicked in the courtyard and she
even got the first pedicure of her life! Mom seemed optimistic and
strong...we couldn't wait to get her home. Then her condition went
downhill fast as she lost appetite, energy and spirit.
Throughout the ordeal we asked the physician and staff to explain
what was going on. How bad is it? Is mom going to get better? When
can we take her home? The answers were less than direct, and hospice
and end-of-life planning were never mentioned.
The few hours before my mother's death in the nursing home were
extremely unsettling to us all. She was very uncomfortable, thrashing
and crying out for help.
She could have died a far better death if we had "the conversation."
I can't speak for my siblings, but my feelings of confusion, inadequacy
and guilt remain today. In retrospect, the family could have been
much more proactive but we were looking (begging) for guidance.

Growing old is mandatory;

(717)94 -3 51*9 9WESTHAR ISBURG PIKE,MID LETOWN
Mid letownHome.org

GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL.
- Chili Davis

Join Us At The Middle Ground Cafe!

YOUR NEIGHBORS AT
THE MIDDLETOWN HOME

Welcome You!

We are...

A Campus of Wellness, Rehabilitation
and Life-long Learning.

(717) 944-3351 * 999 WEST HARRISBURG PIKE, MIDDLETOWN
MiddletownHome.org

I'm now aware of the emotional and palliative support that
hospice can provide. And I know that hospice care would have been
a tremendous benefit to us all, especially my mother.

Getting the Word Out

Efforts to encourage open and honest dialog in end-of-life
situations have expanded in recent years. In 2012, The Conversation Project, in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare
Improvement, launched a public campaign to encourage people
to "have conversations that can make all the difference." More
recently, The Hospice Foundation launched a public awareness
campaign on the importance of talking about end-of-life goals
with nationwide screenings of PBS's FRONTLINE film, "Being
Mortal," along with follow-up discussions.
Even Congress is taking notice of this emerging issue. Senators
Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode
Island) held a hearing recently to provide insight into models of
care that empower patients to make treatment decisions that align
with their end-of-life preferences and goals.
Since its inception, hospice has been ahead of its time, with a
focus on high-quality, holistic care to patients and families. Hasn't
it earned its place as a conversation piece for us all?

Author Todd Owens is a freelance writer. Please contact toddowenscommunications@gmail.com to comment on this article.

Central PA Medicine Summer 2017 17


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