What “The H Word” is and Why You Should be Talking About it Sooner

If you’ve never had to experience hospice with a friend or family member, you’ve probably stayed away from discussing it. This makes it extremely difficult to prepare for a situation that should require a tremendous amount of foresight and planning. You see, many wait until the last minute to enter their loved ones into hospice and this greatly minimizes the chance for a comfortable and peaceful transition. A study from 2000 suggests that most people only spend an average of 12.5 days in hospice care, and only 23% of those who are eligible pass away while in hospice.


“Often, when we are able to begin caring for a patient, we only have a few days to be able to learn what will make them most comfortable and what will give them the best quality of life while honoring their final wishes,” says Kelli Rojas, the executive director of Aviant Hospice in Cottonwood, AZ.


Hospice, along with most conversations involving end of life transitions, has perhaps always been a tough subject for most to discuss. But is the awkwardness of the conversation worth your loved one not receiving all the care that they deserve?


“We love to speak with families that have spoken with loved ones about their wishes and have a plan that allows for a beautiful end of life experience”, mentions Kelli.


Another issue is the timing of a doctor’s recommendation for hospice. At times, it appears that doctors see hospice as a failure to cure and although it is on a case by case basis, the concern is that there is a hesitancy to put patients into the program.


“In our area, only 1 out of every 2 people eligible for the gift of hospice is actually receiving care,” says Kelli Rojas.


Other common misconceptions include the idea that hospice takes place in an outside facility — when, in fact, care is often administered in the patient’s home where they are most comfortable.


With the greater part of our population entering their twilight years, we feel that proactive conversation, as well as the openness it will take to remove the stigma surrounding the H word, will have an immensely positive impact on our families and friends when they say goodbye.