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Hospice: The Beginning of Peace

by Charley ShimanskiHospice: The beginning of peace

The sooner you call hospice, the more hospice can do for you.

I know that because, long before I joined the team at Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice, I learned it for myself.

In 1988, my mother, Gloria Shimanski, was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and given six months to live. Like most people, my mother thought of hospice as something reserved for the final hours of life, and she put her last days into the hands of her three brokenhearted sons. While I and my two older brothers did our level best to make her long decline as comfortable as possible, we simply didn’t have the knowledge or experience needed to properly address our mother’s physical and psychological needs.

When my mother’s pain finally surpassed our abilities to manage, I called our local hospice in Madison, Wisconsin, which sent over a nurse named Diane. Kind, gentle and thoroughly professional, Diane eased my mom’s symptoms and schooled us in the finer points of caregiving. She also became my mother’s dear friend, trusted advisor and emotional rock, and a source of endless relief for her sons. Near the end of her first visit, Diane called me aside.

“How are you doing?” she asked me.

I was amazed. Diane was there for me, too.

My mom died just three weeks later at the age of 59, but they were three weeks blessed by Diane’s unfaltering compassion and capable care. Why, I asked myself over and over, didn’t I call hospice sooner?

Even today, many people are simply not aware of the countless ways that modern hospice can help the dying and their loved ones, or that those services can begin the moment a physician refers a patient to hospice. Mount Evans’ highly trained team of hospice nurses can manage symptoms and control pain, intercede directly with physicians to reduce the need for doctor visits, and reduce the likelihood of crisis and hospitalization.

Mount Evans counselors can provide individuals and families with essential emotional and spiritual support. Mount Evans social workers offer hospice patients a host of vitally important services including help establishing the advance directives that ensure their end-of-life wishes are known and honored. Caring and competent Mount Evans volunteers are always ready to provide practical assistance, companionship and respite care.

Hospice is there for families, too.

When my father-in-law’s cancer got the upper hand a few years ago, my wife and I called Mount Evans immediately. Acting quickly gave Hans time to form a relationship with his nurse, and gave his nurse time to form a relationship with our family. Mount Evans gave my father-in-law the best possible quality of life during his final months, and it enormously improved the quality of our remaining time with him.

If you or someone you love is facing the end of life, I would encourage you to call Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice sooner, not later.

Hospice isn’t the end of hope. It’s the beginning of peace.

Charley Shimanski is the President and CEO of Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice