To the editor:
No one wants to die, but it will happen to all of us. Few of us think about it much until we face circumstances in which it can't be avoided. Most of us will fight to the death to extend our lives, as though this is a fight we can win. The end of life shouldn't be a fight. It's not about winning and losing. It's about the natural course of events; without death there can be no life.
It is a sign of wisdom and maturity to know of one's mortality. It is a sign of courage and of humility to know we don't live forever. If we are destined to have advance knowledge of our death, to face a terminal illness, High Peaks Hospice and Palliative Care can help.
As people face their deaths, their greatest fear is not of dying; it is of dying in pain. For many it is the fear of dying alone, or among strangers, or away from home, friends and loved ones. November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to raise awareness about the compassionate care that hospice and palliative care provides.
Research tells us that people who enter hospice, who receive pain management, who receive spiritual counseling, who get the opportunity to talk about their feelings related to dying, live longer than people who receive aggressive medical care until their deaths, and report greater comfort and peacefulness. Is longer life a guarantee for everyone? No, but it is more likely than not.
The hospice team provides expert medical care to keep patients comfortable and able to enjoy time with loved ones. The hospice team answers questions, offers advice on what to expect and helps families with the duties of being a caregiver. The team also provides emotional and spiritual support for the entire family.
Hospice is covered by Medicare, by Medicaid in most states and by most insurance plans and HMOs. Hospice care is provided in the home, nursing home assisted-living facilities and long-term care centers.
Hospice care is available to people of all ages, with any illness. Hospice professionals and trained volunteers will ask you what's important and listen to what you say. They make your wishes a priority.
If you or a loved one is facing a serious or life-limiting illness, the time to find out more about hospice and palliative care is right now. You can bet your life on it.
Paul S. Benveniste, Ph.D.
Board president, High Peaks Hospice and Palliative Care
Clinical psychologist, Adult Outpatient Center
Glens Falls Hospital