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Taking Care of Mom and Dad: The Difficulties of Caring for the Dying

Once you've made the decision to use hospice care...and allow your mom or dad to pass while in the comforts of their own home...you'll face new challenges every day leading up to their actual death. At the end of a long, progressive illness, nights especially can be long, lonely and scary. Because of this, hospices have staff available around the clock to consult by phone with the family and make night visits if appropriate.

Hospice can also provide trained volunteers to provide "respite care," to give family members a break and/or provide companionship to the patient.

You can't underestimate how hard caring for a loved one on that final path can be on you. Make sure you have plenty of extra support from friends and other family members and don't underutilize those hospice workers. It should be a team effort.

Also keep in mind that hospice isn't there to make a death come sooner...or later. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.

Although 90 percent of hospice patient time is spent in a personal residence, some patients live in nursing homes or hospice centers.

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