Ethos Home Care & Hospice offers complimentary services to help comfort and support patients
When we hear “hospice,” many of us hear “a very short time to live.”
That can be true. However, the beauty of hospice is that whether you have days, weeks or even months to live, hospice will make it the best it can be.
The number one goal of hospice care is to help manage your pain as much as possible. Skilled nurses and home health aides help make you comfortable so you can make the most of each day.
Complementary services are part of how Ethos Hospice can enrich your life and your family’s life. Services like:
• Massage therapy
• Pet therapy
• Healing touch (Reiki)
• Spiritual care
At the end of a long week or a hard workout, nothing relieves stress and loosens up stiff muscles like the pressure and long strokes of a massage.
Although the techniques are different, massage is just as beneficial to hospice patients.
Because older adults’ skin is thinner and more delicate in general, massage therapists use gentle strokes and stretching to work their magic. The effects are many. Massage can help:
• Relax stiff muscles
• Reduce pain and swelling
• Improve circulation, flexibility and muscle tone
• Improve sleep
• Lower blood pressure
• Decrease stress, fear, restlessness and anxiety
Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that massage relaxes the body and mind. When our minds relax, is makes our pain decrease and sense of wellbeing increase. Massage also releases “feel good” hormones like serotonin and endorphins.
It’s hard to keep from smiling when you see a friendly dog. But pet therapy goes beyond that. People often react differently to pets than people. A less responsive patient may suddenly perk up when their pet therapist comes for a visit.
“I’ve worked with patients in hospice who didn’t talk much. When Remi came into the picture, they talked,” said Lily Rudningen, LPN, Ethos Hospice pet therapist. She volunteers with her dog, Remi.
Dogs – and other pets – provide comfort, unconditional love and distraction. Pet therapy is common in places as diverse as children’s hospitals and nursing homes.
“It’s something about the presence of an animal that makes someone’s worries disappear. All you can think about is seeing the animal.”
The benefits of pet therapy are many and last beyond the visit:
• Reduced anxiety
• Improved mood
• Decreased depression
• Reduced stress
• Increased alertness
“I love the smile that lights up patients’ faces just walking into the room with Remi,” Lily says.
Healing Touch (Reiki)
Pain and discomfort are facts of life for most patients in hospice. Medications can help but may leave you fatigued and lethargic.
Healing touch can make you more comfortable and without side effects. It works alongside traditional medicine. It isn’t a cure.
Healing touch is based on the belief that we all have energy within our bodies. A life-force energy that affects us physically, emotionally and spiritually.
When healing touch practitioners lay their hands on or near a patient, they restore harmony to that life-force energy. The effects can be significant:
• Reduce stress and anxiety
• Lessen pain
• Improve mood
As you look at the end of your life, you might feel anxious. You might not feel ready. You may have questions about what happens next.
Spiritual care is an essential part of hospice for many patients and their families. “Chaplains walk with them as they approach and move through the end of life,” said Tessa Hansen, Ethos Hospice Chaplain.
“That can mean lending a listening ear, talking, singing, devotions, sharing stories or simply sitting side by side. Wherever they’re at, I just come and be with people during that hard transition.”
“Sometimes, it means just literally sitting with them and being a compassionate presence. Sometimes that means getting to know them and talking about their life, what their life has meant, things that are important to them,” she said.
“Other times, it means walking with families that are grieving the loss of a loved one or the impending loss of a loved one. Being with people while they’re dealing with all of those end-of-life issues.”
“Hospice helps people die well. It gives them the care they need so that at the end of their life, this hard process is a little bit easier,” said Hansen.
There’s no getting “used to” a loved one dying. After the funeral, things don’t go back to “normal.” Grief can be scary and overwhelming and lonely.
Grief affects each of us differently. It’s emotional and can be physical, too, both before and after a loved one’s death. The process takes at least a year. Often longer.
Bereavement coordinators support families through this journey. For 13 months, they send letters and make phone calls. They provide connections to resources, groups and one-on-one counseling.
While they can’t take the heaviness of grief away, they can help make it a little lighter.
Ethos Home Care and Hospice provides personalized care and services to individuals in the Fargo-Moorhead area. For more information about Ethos Home Care & Hospice services, please call 701-356-3803 or visit ethoscare.org/hospice.
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