Hospice Awareness Month highlights importance of end-of-life preparedness

November is Hospice Awareness Month.
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 3:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - End-of-life discussions can be a difficult thing to talk about with loved ones – but it is an important conversation to have.

November is Hospice Awareness Month, a chance to honor caregivers and workers who help families and patients plan for end-of-life care.

Islands Hospice Director of Marketing Sheryl Abellanosa says the services they offer go beyond just logistics.

“Hospice for us is a way for us to provide that additional level of support when a person a patient is going through a journey and it would be that end of life journey,” she said.

“When we are meeting with families and when they are gripping my hands, and they’re telling me, ‘Thank you so much for being there and listen to me listening to me and listening to us, trying understand what our father or mother needs,’ it has to be the most heartwarming feeling.”

Abellanosa says Islands Hospice has services on Oahu and Maui, and employs upwards of about 200 people, ranging from nurses to office staff.

She added that sometimes, their work serves as a counseling bridge between families who need help coming to terms with the reality of a patient’s final days.

“I think the hardest things that I’ve, well that most of us have seen, is family members are not ready but the patient is ready or even vice versa,” she said. “But when you’re dealing with a family member who is just, they’re not able to except the illness and the the end of life decisions that that patient is making, that makes things very difficult especially if that patient isn’t able to communicate.”

That’s when advanced healthcare directives, wills, and other legal paperwork from a patient planned well in advance are crucial in furthering the decision making process. To learn more about hospice care, click here.

Another factor to consider: Hawaii also has in place a ‘Death with Dignity’ law, as it has been called. The Our Care, Our Choice act went into effect in 2019, and allows terminally ill patients to obtain end-of-life prescriptions under medical supervision.

Planning early is crucial. Abellanosa urges families to get clear instructions from patients early on their final wishes are when the time comes.