National Hospice and Palliative Care Month is November 2011. The theme for this year's event is "We Listen, We Care."
Keweenaw Home Nursing brought Medicare skilled hospice care to this community 17 years ago. Prior to that, hospice was provided by groups of thoughtful volunteers who were interested in helping other people get through a most difficult time. We continue to be here for people to help get them through this time of life - we care, we listen.
I once read the following quote: "We were given two ears but only one mouth, because listening is twice as hard as talking" - anonymous. I smile whenever I read this, because truly listening is much more difficult than speaking. To truly listen to someone is a gift, one that many hospice providers are skilled at. In our everyday life when conversation occurs, people are often not listening attentively.
Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others, focusing attention on the speaker rather than being distracted, thinking of other things or what you will say next. Active listening involves listening without judgment and giving full attention to what the other person has to say. You will often hear us say in hospice that it is a privilege to be able to share listening moments with our patients. Consider taking a moment at noon Nov. 1 to listen to your community as bells are rung to bring attention to the hospice movement. We are inviting our local churches to ring bells and the staff of Aspirus Keweenaw Home Health & Hospice will be outside of our office ringing bells at noon time to bring attention to this worthy program. Even though hospice has been in our community for so many years, there are still people who do not understand what hospice is.
We want people to know that hospice care focuses on living and on caring, not curing. Hospice care is provided wherever the patient calls home. This may include nursing homes, assisted living facilities or their home. Hospice provides end-of-life care and to all ages with any illness. Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans providing quality, compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness. Hospice provides expert medical care, symptom management, emotional and spiritual support and for the family following the death of a loved one, bereavement care is provided as well. We care, we listen.
Take time to listen at noon Nov. 1 to the bells for hospice. Listen and think about hospice care. We all live, we all die. Have you thought about how you want to spend your last weeks, days, months? Have you communicated this to your loved ones? Many people only consider hospice care in the final days of life but hospice is ideally suited to care for patients and family caregivers for the final months of life. While hospice cannot add days to your life, it can certainly add life to your days.
Editor's note: Wanda Kolb is division administrator for Aspirus Keweenaw Home Health &?Hospice.