What Is End Of Life Care?

what is end of life care

End of life care is an umbrella term covering all of the ways we hope to be cared for and supported when we’re nearing and at the end of our lives. For those who are diligent about long-term-care planning, end of life care begins with completing advanced medical directives, ensuring your wishes are honored in various, unpredictable medical situations. It continues on to consider the types of treatment or support you’d prefer as age- or health-related declines make it impossible to care for themselves.

In a culture that focuses more on medical treatments than quality end of life care, this term is quickly distilled to the question of palliative care or hospice? If you’re in an immediate healthcare crisis, that’s where you should start. Otherwise, feel free to scroll down to the section “It’s Never Too Early to Begin Thinking About End of Life Care.”

Do You Need Immediate End Of Life Care & Support?

If you recently received a terminal prognosis or a diagnosis for progressive disease/syndrome, there is no time to waste. While your chosen treatment path may yield decades or years of quality life ahead, end of life plans provides peace of mind and “A Plan,” that can be enacted much more quickly than if you procrastinate and wait for a medical emergency or trauma to force the hand. We recommend meeting with hospice or palliative care services early on to interview them and learn more about what they offer. Yes, that’s right – we said “interview.” These organizations exist to serve their clients and it’s imperative that you feel safe, seen, and comfortable with whichever agency you choose. Read our post, Tips for Choosing a Hospice Care Provider to learn more about what to look for and which questions to ask as you “interview” prospective agencies.

It’s About More Than Just The Physical 

While the first step is to learn and understand all you can about your diagnosis and potential treatments, you also need extra support to make both short and long-term care decisions – including end of life options. Even the most well-meaning of healthcare providers don’t have the time (or the training) to support you in all of the ways that are meaningful as you face a prognosis or terminal diagnosis. That’s where palliative and hospice care providers provide tremendous support. While your physical comfort is certainly a priority, we are here to address every aspect of your life, including your mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. We can also help you learn more about the practical, after-death options if you haven’t already done so. Additionally, we’re here to support your family, so it becomes a team effort all the way around. We do this by offering:
  • Home or hospice house-based support via doctors and nurses
  • Personal care and hygiene support
  • Medical equipment as needed for comfort and accessibility (bed with adjustable settings, oxygen, wheelchair/walkers, bedside tables, commodes for the bathroom and bedside, etc.
  • Prescription refills/delivery
  • Chaplain or spiritual direction
  • Social workers and therapists
  • Grief support
  • A team of volunteers to provide personalized support
As we mention in our post What is Hospice Care?: Many people mistakenly believe that signing up for hospice care means surrendering to death. We often hear, “We just aren’t ready for hospice because we believe there is hope.” There is no need to give up hope while on hospice service. In fact, if you are on the fence about continuing with treatment and going on hospice, you can go on hospice and benefit from a hospice care team. If you decide to pursue further treatment, you can go back off service to honor your wishes. Ultimately – it’s all about the patient! It’s never too soon to begin researching end of life options because the longer you have to make plans, the better and more personalized those plans can be.

It’s Never Too Early To Begin Thinking About End Of Life Care

If you happen to find this blog because you’re early to the end of life planning process (meaning you’re relatively healthy and facing no current prognosis), we congratulate you. The more forethought our clients put into their end of life plans before setting them into action, the more personalized and comprehensive their plans are.  At the pre-prognosis or early diagnosis stage of the process, you have the time to craft careful plans that include your personal life values and desires and can also encompass those of your family – if that’s what you wish. This process requires:
  • Creating an advanced directive and sharing it with healthcare providers, spouse/partner, close family members, and your POA and Trustee. Click Here for a free medical directive form for Georgia. We also recommend the simple and affordable ($5) form available from Five Wishes.
  • Getting your estate plans in order, even if that’s just a basic written will or a legal trust (there are plenty of free documents online to get you started). 
  • Knowing the difference between palliative care and hospice care so you know who to call and when if/when a medical event or emergency brings you in closer proximity to your death.
  • Make your wishes known by at least two or three individuals, from different areas of your life (family, friend, trusted colleague, or a long-time neighbor) to protect the integrity of your wishes.
  • Ensuring family members, minors, pets, and heirlooms/prized possessions are taken care of when you’re gone.
If, however, you never got around to creating end of life plans, OR you find yourself facing an acute situation sooner than you thought, we recommend contacting a hospice care provider ASAP. That way you can make the very most of the time you have left, and have access to all the support you and your loved ones deserve during this precious time. Would you like to learn more about end of life care options for yourself, a spouse, or a loved one? Contact Hospice of the Golden Isles. There is absolutely no obligation whatsoever. Our mission is to ensure everyone has the highest quality of life and as much peace of mind about end of life care and options. We’re happy to answer all of your questions.

Hospice Is For The Family, Too!

hospice is for the family too

Those of us who work in hospice are passionate about what we do because we witness every day how our services improve the quality of life for both patients and families. That’s right; hospice services are designed to support the entire family unit – not just the client. 

7 Ways Hospice Is For The Family And How They Benefit

If you are in the process of deciding whether you or a loved one would benefit from hospice or palliative care services, read Tips on Choosing a Hospice (or palliative) Care Provider  Once you’ve signed up for hospice service (which is funded by Medicare, utterly free of charge, for patients of all ages), your family is immediately supported by a team of compassionate professionals dedicated to providing as much peace of mind and quality of life as possible.  Here are seven of the most important ways families benefit from hospice. 

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The Difference Between Clinical And Peer Grief Support

the difference between clinical and peer grief support

Joining a grief support group or seeking individual grief support is a powerful way to learn more about grief, how it affects you in your daily life, and process your grief to move forward in a more balanced way. 

When you begin searching for grief support, you’ll have two available options. The first is to enlist the help of a clinical grief therapist. The other is to join a peer grief support group or one-on-one peer grief support help. This post clarifies the difference between the two, so you can determine which one feels like the best fit for you at this moment.

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Types Of Grief: It’s Not Always Related To Death

types of grief its not always related to death

During one of our grief support groups the other day, a member shared that the first grief she ever experienced was when her family sold their green VW bus. She was five years old at the time, and when the family left the van at the car lot, she was beside herself with grief. She cried and cried, and her parents didn’t understand why.  

From her perspective, it was the only car she knew, and she remembers feeling like they were abandoning a member of their household without giving it a proper goodbye. She’s wanted to buy a green VW ever since. While the group nodded and smiled as she shared, we were also grateful to have a chance to share some of “The Other Types of Grief” we have experienced in our own lives. 

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When Is It Time For Hospice?

when is it time for hospice

We can’t tell you how many times our nurses, social workers, or volunteers have heard the words, “We wish we would have called hospice sooner. It has made our lives so much better.” When you’re facing a terminal or end-of-life prognosis, you and your family deserve all the support you can get. The hospice model of care is incomparable when it comes to providing that network.  

Many people mistakenly believe that signing up for hospice means that death is imminent, and they aren’t “willing to give up yet.” In fact, hospice provides comfort and support at every level – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – for patients and their families  Remarkable Fact: Contrary to popular belief, signing up for hospice actually improves life expectancy for many patients. Based on findings from a large cohort of retrospective studies, “Receiving at least one day of hospice care may increase life expectancy by up to three months.”   But, of course, we hope that anyone facing a terminal illness would benefit from far more than a single day of our care. Whether you choose hospice care or palliative care options (more on those below), we sincerely hope you find the care you deserve as you and your family navigate this next powerful chapter in your journey. 

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How To Become A Hospice Nurse

how to become a hospice nurse  

We have yet to meet a hospice nurse, physician, social worker, staff, or volunteer that doesn’t feel our work is “a calling.” The fragile, respectful, and complicated realms of dying, death, and grief require unique skill sets and gifts. Those who want to work in this field have a special relationship with life and death, seeing them as part of the same and connected whole.  

This is all to say that while there is a logistical and linear path to becoming a hospice nurse, odds are your journey is one of the heart and soul.  

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16th Annual R.E. Thomas Memorial Benefit

16th Annual R.E. Thomas Memorial Benefit
Join Johnny and Joyce Thomas and their extended family and friends for the annual R.E. Thomas Benefit for HGI.

Join Johnny and Joyce Thomas and their extended family and friends for the annual R.E. Thomas Benefit for Hospice of The Golden Isles

Enjoy a delicious prime rib and shrimp dinner catered by Mudcat Charlie’s, live entertainment from local talent and most of all the palpable fellowship buzzing through the Shrine Club.

To Register, call Johnny Thomas at (912) 269-5001

Event will be held at the Brunswick Shrine Club, Saturday, August 28, 2021! Tickets are $60/person • Doors open at 6:30pm • Dinner at 7pm • BYOB

Home Hospice Care: What To Expect

home hospice care what to expect

Bringing hospice care into the home improves the quality of life for patients and their families. Once you’ve started home hospice care, you have access to an incredible network of support that goes far beyond the realms of clinical and comfort care. 

If you’re new to the idea of hospice, read our post What is Hospice Care for a general overview of the services we provide.

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Palliative Care And Hospice Care

palliative care and hospice care  

As hospice care providers we often see or hear the terms palliative care and hospice care used interchangeably even though they are not exactly the same thing.  

While these two services do share things in common, there are distinct differences. Knowing and understanding what each healthcare service offers helps you to make the most informed healthcare decisions for yourself or a loved one.

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Hospice of the Golden Isles.
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912.265.4735 | toll-free at 866.275.6801
1692 Glynco Parkway | Brunswick, GA 31525
501(c)(3) non-profit organization | License #GA063007H
Privacy Policy 
Copyright ©2020 Hospice of the Golden Isles.
All rights reserved.

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National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Member