Time for Everything
By Jason Willis
As we begin to age it’s not uncommon to reflect over our lives, to allow our minds to drift to our past. Perhaps our perspectives regarding its purpose, or what we want to accomplish has changed over the years. Gone are the days of our youth, when the summers were long, and we thought we would live forever. Getting older brings forth an awakening that there are more days behind us than are in front. This reality check pertaining to the value of time suddenly puts a deeper meaning into the quality of our lives. These simple, yet wonderful things in life that we never had time for are suddenly the most important moments of all. The picnics we must take, the dances we must share, and the laughter we must enjoy, are all a part of the simple pleasures in life’s journey.
As a hospice administrator here in the upstate of South Carolina I’ve heard the stories and seen the emotions regarding the value of time. Desperate families praying for more of it, while patients wishing to live what little is left to its fullest. This is hospice and what a hospice team was organized for. The single most difficult time a family will ever endure are the challenging days of the dying process. Hospice care was created to engage and support both the patient and the family through these most vulnerable experiences. Hospice teams are patient-centered, yet family focused groups that are led by a medical director. The rest of the team consists of nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains, and trained volunteers. Hospice seeks out the goals and wishes of the patient and family, and with a caring environment provide support, comfort, and nurture.
Since I’ve been in the hospice field, I’ve heard several misconceptions regarding hospice and what the care really is. It does not hasten death, nor is it designed to prolong life, nor to assist someone to die. Hospice care is for those that are approaching the end of their life and a cure is not possible. These patients are provided care by a team of health care professionals that are trained to remove pain, ease fears, and provide comfort. Hospice care’s efforts are focused on the quality of the patient’s time, not the length. This is not about giving up, nor is it about giving in, it’s about giving hope that today can be better than yesterday.