The diagnosis of a life-limiting illness brings with it questions, fears and concerns: “Will I be able to handle the pain?” “How will my family care for me?” And the most frequently heard question: “Can I stay at home?”
“Faced with terminal illness, some 90 percent of people prefer to remain in their homes, continuing the routines that make them most comfortable,” says Norene Scheck, senior general manager of VITAS Innovative Hospice Care in Chicagoland. “Whether they live in their family home, an adult living community or a nursing home, they want to age—and die—in place, surrounded by the faces and things that are meaningful to them.”
Yet the perception persists that hospice or palliative care in Chicagoland means going to—or ending up in—a place. Hospice isn’t a place. Hospice is a philosophy of care; it focuses on enhancing a patient’s comfort and overall quality of life during the last months of life. By treating physical symptoms, providing pain management and addressing emotional and spiritual concerns, hospice can make the end of life more meaningful for patients and their loved ones.
So when it’s time for hospice, there’s no place like home. And once symptoms are under control and the patient is comfortable, home is the place to enjoy life—celebrating a grandchild’s graduation, reminiscing with friends and family, even recording your life story for future generations.
“Most important,” says Norene Scheck, “you are in a familiar place and have the comfort of family and friends, which is what most of us want at the end of life.”
(Provided by VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, which provides hospice care to patients and families throughout the Chicagoland area. Go to VITAS.com/Illinois.)