When you made your New Year’s
resolutions for 2003, you probably resolved
to exercise more, to eat healthier, or to spend
more time with your family. Most likely,
your resolutions focused on improving your
quality of life. It’s unlikely you thought
about making resolutions about the end of
life, but thinking about the end of life now
is vital to ensuring that you have the type
of end-of-life experience you want when
that time inevitably comes.
To get you thinking about end-of-life
care, Heartland Care Hospice suggests the
following "Top 10" resolutions for 2003.
Some of our resolutions focus on improving
your quality of life now, and others focus
on ensuring a quality end-of-life experience.
1. Plan ahead for end-of-life care by
completing an advance directive. Advance
directives outline your wishes for medical
care in case you are unable to communicate,
due to an accident or a terminal illness.
Share these wishes with your family, so they
can feel confident in making health care
decisions for you.
2. Learn more about end-of-life care
by taking the "Find Our Way" free on-line
course at www.scu.edu/fow. This course
covers the basics of hospice and end-of-life
3. Volunteer—it’s good for your health!
A University of Michigan study has linked
volunteering to increased life expectancy.
Consider volunteering for a hospice. You can
provide companionship for patients, assist with
special projects, or help in the office.
4. Tell someone about the Medicare
The majority of
Americans, 85 percent, don’t know that Medicare
will pay for hospice. 5. person to consider
Encourage a young person to consider a
career in nursing. (We can all use help with
the nursing shortage!)
6. Be a friend to someone who is
experiencing grief. The book Don’t Ask for
the Dead Man’s Golf Clubs offers helpful,
heartfelt suggestions for comforting a
7. Remember a loved one by making
a memorial gift to a hospice program.
Hospices use memorial gifts to provide care
for those families who can’t afford to pay.
8. Visit with an elder in your
community. It’s estimated that there are more
than 72,000 people who have reached 100
years old. They have great stories to share.
Take the time to listen!
9. Offer your patients a consultation
on end-of-life care with a hospice. Nearly
nine out of 10 Americans endorse end-oflife
consultations for the terminally ill.
10. Heartland Care Hospice is having a
New Year’s resolutions contest. Fax your
2003 resolution, along with your name and
phone number, to us at 495-4424 by January
15. We’ll enter you in a drawing to win AMC
movie passes for two!
For those of you who take care of the
elderly or terminally ill, the New Year is also
a great time to learn how to assess a patient
for hospice care. The following is a list of
the "Top 10" reasons why a hospice referral
may be appropriate for your patient.
1. Patient has experienced a 10 percent
unintentional weight loss during the previous
2. Patient is no longer able to ambulate
3. Patient is no longer able to dress
4. Patient is requiring considerable
assistance with activities of daily living
(ADL’s) and frequent medical care.
5. Patient has experienced frequent
hospitalizations or physicians visits for
dehydration, hypovolemia, sepsis, or pain
6. Patient is refusing aggressive or
curative treatments and requests comfort
7. Patient and/or caregivers are
experiencing stress or difficulty managing the
8. Patient’s serum albumin level is less
than 2.5 gm/dl.
9. Patient has a complex disease
process with existing co-morbidities that
10. You would not be surprised to read
the patient’s name in the obituary section of
the newspaper within the next six to 12