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When medical care can no longer help a patient, the next step can be hospice care. While medical care aims to cure, hospice care aims to relieve physical and mental pain. It lets terminally ill patients spend their final days, weeks or months taking medication to ease the pain so they can focus on unfinished business. That can include anything from having final conversations with loved ones to perfecting their putting technique on the golf course. Knowing how to choose the right hospice program is an important part of the end of life process.
Sunny Langlinais, a non-denominational hospice chaplain in south Houston, says her job "is to help [patients] say what they need to say before they leave – to seek the forgiveness, love, reconciliation, whatever they need – and help them come to terms with the fact they are dying. Then I midwife them into the hands of God, whoever their god happens to be. In the process, I also minister to the families, help them let go, say goodbye, and be OK with the process."
Agreeing to move from treatment to hospice care is not irreversible. If a patient's health improves, the patient can stop hospice care and resume treatment. So, Langlinais says, there's no reason to be afraid of hospice. "The thing I hear over and over is, 'I wish I had done this sooner.'"
How to Choose the Right Hospice ProgramOnce the decision is made to move to hospice, how do you choose the right hospice program? These steps can help:
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