Hospice Provides Care and Support to Patients and Family Caregivers with ALS

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New video from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization's “Moments of Life” campaign shows the compassion provided by hospice to a couple facing ALS.

Moments of Life is a new public awareness campaign about hospice.

Moments of Life will share the stories of hospice patients and families to demonstrate how hospice helps with living fully.

“While the hospice team does attend primarily to the patient’s needs, they also go a step further, providing support to the family caregivers."

Visit Pam and Steve’s quiet home in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Chestnut Hill and you will find a loving couple facing the most monumental challenge of their life together, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Steve was diagnosed with ALS – more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease – just before the couple’s second wedding anniversary. Pam is now her husband’s primary caregiver.

A new video, “Care, Support & ALS,” that’s part of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s national, outreach campaign, Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice, demonstrates how hospice provides care not only for the patient but for family caregivers as well.

Being a caretaker to someone afflicted with ALS is a daunting task; but with the help of Holy Redeemer Hospice, Pam doesn’t have to face this journey alone.

“Many people mistakenly think that hospice only cares for the person with a life-limiting illness,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “While the hospice team does attend primarily to the patient’s needs, they also go a step further, providing support to the family caregivers."

Services provided by hospice may include counseling, therapeutic stress-reducing treatments, help from volunteers, or even a level of care dubbed “respite,” in which the hospice patient is temporarily cared for at an in-patient facility giving the family caregivers a break in their caregiving duties.

Pam is a perfect example of a caregiver facing a daunting challenge. Steve’s condition keeps her busy at all times. But, with the support of hospice and the respite care she receives, Pam is able to manage.

“I realized that when I returned from respite, I had fresh energy as a wife, not only as a caregiver, to better love Steve and to keep going,” Pam says.

NHPCO reports that every year, more than 1.6 million patients with a life-limiting illness are cared for by the nation’s hospices. Hospice cares for people who have a prognosis of six months of less should their illness follow its expected course.

“Another mistake some people have about hospice is that providers only care for cancer patients. Approximately 60 percent of hospice patients have a non-cancer diagnosis – like ALS, heart disease, or other forms of dementia,” added Schumacher.

To learn how hospice can help patients and families facing life-limiting illness, to find a hospice in your community, and more, visit Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice.

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Anita Brikman
since: 03/2009
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National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
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