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Tag Archive | "Hospice of Michigan"

HOPE J. FLASCH


 

Hope J. Flasch 89 of Cedar Springs, passed away Thursday, September 1, 2016 at Bishop Hills, Rockford. Mrs. Flasch was born June 11, 1927 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the daughter of William and Anna (Worgul) Kuyat. Surviving are her children, Joyce (Joel) Andrus, Jerry (Vivian) Flasch; grandchildren, Nikki (Wayne) Bugden, Kerry (Charlie) Boyer, Katrina (Justin) Craven, Eric (Tamara) Flasch; 8 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Charles in 2000 and 3 brothers. Visitation and service was held Monday, September 5 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. Interment Solon Township Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Michigan, 989 Spaulding SE, Ada, MI 49301.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Never accept pain as a natural part of aging or illness 


September is National Pain Awareness Month. Palliative care treatment can help alleviate symptoms for those dealing with physical, emotional and spiritual discomfort.  

September is National Pain Awareness Month. Palliative care treatment can help alleviate symptoms for those dealing with physical, emotional and spiritual discomfort.

from Hospice of Michigan

Contrary to what many may believe, pain does not have to be part of a loved one’s natural aging process or chronic illness, and no one should experience pain at the end of life. September’s designation as National Pain Awareness Month is an opportunity for caregivers to better understand, and help alleviate, their loved one’s physical, emotional and spiritual discomfort.

Palliative care offers comfort and improved quality of life to patients and families by identifying and managing pain and other distressing symptoms such as nausea, and shortness of breath. It differs from hospice care in that palliative care can be provided at the same time as curative treatment and is appropriate for people of any age with uncontrolled pain or symptoms, at any stage of an illness.

Uncontrolled pain can lead to needless suffering, poor sleep, urinary retention, limited mobility or breathing, fear or anxiety. Individuals experiencing pain may say they are fine when they are not since pain awareness varies across cultures, genders and beliefs. Some people are very vocal about their pain and desire pain relief. Others think they need to be tough and refuse to acknowledge their pain. Some people believe pain is a way to atone for sins or is part of the aging process.  Many believe that they will become ‘addicted’ to pain pills, or fear being overmedicated.

“Physical pain can be made worse by emotional or spiritual pain, and that distress can make it more difficult to achieve comfort,” said Michael Paletta MD, FAAHPM, Hospice of Michigan vice president, medical affairs and chief medical officer. “Patients and caregivers alike often fail to recognize emotional and spiritual pain. Overlooking or ignoring signs of such distress does nothing to improve quality of life or patient care. Those experiencing chronic pain should always seek help, while others should be vigilant for signs of physical, emotional and spiritual pain within their loved ones.”

Everyone’s experience with pain is different. There is no test or X-ray to measure pain. For those who find it difficult to vocalize or admit their pain, family and friends can look for such signs as grimacing, restlessness, irritability, mood swings, wringing of hands, teeth grinding, moaning, sleep disturbance, poor concentration or decreased activity. Keeping track of a loved one’s pain occurrences, the level and type of pain and when medication was taken, can help clinicians prescribe the proper course of palliative care treatment.

And, while it can be difficult for family and friends to see a loved one in pain, they often suffer, too. Pain may cause a strain on the relationship, frustrations and/or anger. Caregivers often have the added daily stress of increased responsibility for maintaining the home on top of caregiving responsibilities. They may also have to endure emotional outbursts from the patient in pain. Family life may become constricted; communication, activities and interactions amongst family and friends may center on pain. The family’s social life may suffer and individuals may become progressively isolated from friends and the community.

Pain not only takes a physical toll on a patient, but an emotional and spiritual toll as well. Hospice of Michigan spiritual care coordinators and social workers relieve emotional and spiritual distress by identifying concerns, offering expert advice, a listening ear, and meeting patient and family member goals.

When traditional pain relief methods are not enough, enjoying music and art, a relaxing massage and the companionship of a pet can help a loved one maximize comfort and quality of life. Introducing music, art, massage and pet interactions alongside medical interventions and counseling provides patients with a holistic plan of care. Such “life’s pleasures” help patients control symptoms, manage stress and relieve anxiety.

Hospice of Michigan clinicians educate patients and families on the many types of pain management, always mindful of a patient’s wishes and beliefs in developing a course of treatment.

September’s designation as National Pain Awareness Month is a great reminder for everyone who deals with pain – patients, caregivers and clinicians – that pain should never be tolerated. The care teams at Hospice of Michigan are dedicated to identifying and relieving pain of all types – physical, emotional and spiritual.

 

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Loss of spouse event


 

Registration is now open for a free Loss of a Spouse event, presented by Hospice of Michigan, for anyone experiencing the loss of a spouse or life partner in the Grand Rapids area. The event will be held 2-3:30 p.m. on Aug. 9 at the Hospice of Michigan office located at 989 Spaulding SE, Ada. Guest speaker Ron Gries will share excerpts from his book Through Death to Life and lead a discussion. By sharing the challenges of his journey of grief, Gries offers hope and encouragement to others.

All members of the community are welcome to attend the Loss of a Spouse event free of charge, regardless of whether their loved one received services through Hospice of Michigan. To register, contact Sue Glover at 616.356.5255. For information on the event and other services Hospice of Michigan offers to the community, visit http://www.hom.org/for-patients-and-loved-ones/grief-support-groups.

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Dealing with unexpected grief and loss


 

By Bob Cahill, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hospice of Michigan

The evening news has recently been dominated by stories of unexpected loss and these tragedies continue to make headlines every day. The tragedy in Orlando is the most recent national event that has thrust our communities into grieving. For those of us who work with patients and families facing death every day, adding the national grief of an unanticipated tragedy is all the more unsettling. We all share a common thread with the victims in Orlando and their loved ones; when someone loses a life unexpectedly, their family and friends are left to cope with the loss of someone whom they loved dearly.

Experiencing the loss of a loved one is always challenging, but a sudden loss can be shocking and even unimaginable. In the back of our minds, we understand that no one lives forever. When someone we love has a terminal illness or has reached the end-stages of their life, we have time to make preparations and say our goodbyes. However, an untimely death can leave us feeling lost, out-of-control and overwhelmed with pain.

Those who experience unexpected loss may feel angry by the sudden death, cheated of a last goodbye, or sad that they didn’t perform some final act of kindness before their loved one died. Missing out on saying goodbye can leave us feeling distressed, adrift and angry, which only adds to our grief, pain and sadness during an already difficult time.

Although it may be hard to imagine during the months and even years after a sudden death, it’s important to remember that surviving through grief and loss is possible. While everyone grieves differently, ultimately we each work through the pain to begin the healing process.

As we go through a grief journey, it’s important to also focus on our health and emotions. After a loss, we may find ourselves eating or sleeping less; but both are key to healing. We should also be honest with ourselves and deal with our emotions; repressing feelings only delays the grieving process. Crying doesn’t mean we are weak or that we’re being selfish, it means that we are human.

Support groups and counselors are a valuable resource for those who have experienced a loss. They can be found through faith-based organizations such as churches or synagogues; community centers; or non-profit community-based support and grief programs. Many programs are tailored to specific needs such as dealing with an unexpected loss, and are often low-cost or free. The comprehensive grief support services provided through Hospice of Michigan across the state of Michigan are always provided to the community at no cost, whether or not the person has had a loved one use its hospice or palliative care services for adults or children.

Ultimately, it’s important to keep that loved one close to your heart and honor them by living a fulfilling life. During the difficult times following an unexpected loss, we can find comfort by trusting that the person we loved would want us to live our lives to the fullest. 

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A passion for hospice


As a former Hospice of Michigan CEO, Carolyn Cassin is a passionate advocate for hospice care. She continues to support the mission of nonprofit hospice through a legacy gift of $1 million to the Hospice of Michigan Foundation.

As a former Hospice of Michigan CEO, Carolyn Cassin is a passionate advocate for hospice care. She continues to support the mission of nonprofit hospice through a legacy gift of $1 million to the Hospice of Michigan Foundation.

When Carolyn Cassin lost her baby son, she went back to work the following Monday, devastated.

The year was 1976 and people didn’t talk openly about grief and loss. She remembers the platitudes: “you’re young, you’ll have other children,” and the silence. Cassin realized that nothing much had changed in the 10 years since the death of her father. She swallowed that loss, too, returning to high school a few days after the funeral.

“I never grieved for my father or my baby,” recalled Cassin, who now serves as president and CEO of the Michigan Women’s Foundation. “I remember thinking: If death is a natural part of life, why don’t we talk about it? Why don’t we grieve? “I was confounded by this. I didn’t know what to do.”

So Cassin channeled her energy and sadness into education. A fellowship program through the Kellogg Foundation enabled her to study the concept of hospice, which was still taking root in America.

“I became unbelievably taken by this,” she remembered. “As I was sitting down and reading, the tears started to come.”

I thought, “Oh, this is what death should be like. You should be surrounded by friends and family. You should be able to talk about, prepare for it, say your goodbyes. “It touched something very deep in me and I knew this was what I needed to do.”

And so was born a passionate advocate for hospice. Cassin connected with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in the early 1980s, helping to bring standards of care to hospice providers throughout the country. She was tapped to join the National Hospice Education Project, which worked to create the Medicare hospice benefit in 1982. As the CEO of Hospice of Southeastern Michigan, hers was one of the first hospice programs in the country to be certified under those new guidelines.

But the career achievement she’s most proud of? Uniting 10 nonprofit hospice providers around the state under the umbrella of Hospice of Michigan, where she served as CEO for more than a decade.

“Sometimes it takes being at the right place at the right time,” Cassin said. “My sense was that hospice had two paths we could go down. We could each stay in our own community organization and fend for ourselves or we could start to band together as not-for-profit hospice providers and create the size, girth and expertise of a sophisticated organization that could compete with the for-profits.

That process continues today as Hospice of Michigan joined forces in January with Arbor Hospice. The affiliation of two like-minded, mission-driven, nonprofit organizations allows them to better serve patients and families while helping to strengthen and expand the future of nonprofit hospice in Michigan.

Cassin continues to support the mission of nonprofit hospice through a legacy gift of $1 million to the Hospice of Michigan Foundation in support of its Open Access program, which will bear her name. Open Access ensures that all patients, without regard to age, diagnosis or ability to pay, can receive compassionate care at the end of life.

Legacy gifts like Cassin’s are critical to supporting the mission of nonprofit organizations like Hospice of Michigan and Arbor Hospice. Residents of Washtenaw County and beyond have a long history of supporting Arbor Hospice’s work through generous contributions to The Arbor Hospice Foundation.

That generosity is underscored by a recent legacy gift of $500,000, pledged anonymously by a donor who appreciates Arbor’s dedication to patients’ dignity, comfort and peace and the nonprofit model that enables Arbor to put patients’ needs first. While patients of both Hospice of Michigan and Arbor benefit from enhancements made possible through the affiliation, donors may continue directing their gifts to a specific organization.

“Uniting 10 organizations under the banner of nonprofit hospice was quite the feat to pull off,” said Marcie Hillary, who serves as vice president for Hospice of Michigan. “It is Carolyn that we have to thank for our platform that strengthens and supports nonprofit hospice. Her level of innovation and forethought set the stage for Hospice of Michigan and Arbor Hospice to be recognized as leaders in end-of-life care.”

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IRVIN L. SMITH


 

20C--obit-SmithFCIrvin L. Smith, 67, of Sand Lake, died Friday, May 13, 2016 at his home with his family by his side. Irvin was born November 8, 1948 in Cedar Springs, Michigan, the son of Alvin and Ida (Spencer) Smith. He graduated from Kent City High School and was a veteran of the U.S. Army serving during the Vietnam War. He received a Silver Star and Purple Heart. He enjoyed being a mechanic, restoring tractors, hunting, fishing, and horseback riding. When he married Denise in 1998 he took in her children as his own. He had a heart of gold and would do anything for anybody. Surviving are his wife, Denise (Pope); children, Kevin (Connie) Smith, Ann (Aaron) Kindel; stepchildren, Chad (Jeannie) Fisk, Ken (Courtney) Fisk, Sherri (Ron) Potes; grandchildren, Ashley (Jeremiah) Strawderman, Nicole Smith, AJ, Austin and Alivia Kindel, Chase and Archer Fisk; brother, Ike (Joyce) Smith; parents-in-law, Keith (Shirley) Pope; brothers-in-law, Keith (Dixie) Pope, Mark Pope, Bill (Angela) Pope; several nieces and nephews; his baby girl, Stormy. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, Carol Lundquist; brother, David Smith. A private family memorial service will be held. Pastor Chuck Smith officiating. Military honors will be conducted by the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard. Memorials may be made to Hospice of Michigan or Friends of the Michigan Veterans Home.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home,
Cedar Springs.

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A Gift for families: financial planning at the end of life


Financial worries compound the stress that families feel when a loved one is dying. Judy Trepeck of the Michigan Association of CPAs led efforts to provide resources to help families be financially prepared for the end of life.

Financial worries compound the stress that families feel when a loved one is dying. Judy Trepeck of the Michigan Association of CPAs led efforts to provide resources to help families be financially prepared for the end of life.

Every day, when Judy Trepeck goes to the mailbox, she wonders if she’s going to find another bill she has to pay. That’s been pretty much the norm since her stepfather died four months ago, and she stepped in to manage his financial affairs.  She’s working through her grief and a myriad of issues related to settling his estate.

Our job as a survivor begins the day a loved one’s life ends,” said Trepeck, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer for the Michigan Association of CPAs. “What I’m learning now, for example, is that you have to give notice to creditors for four months in case someone has a claim against the estate. There’s a process that starts after death that needs to be managed, but nobody tells you about that.  Who knew?”

 Trepeck’s colleagues at MICPA knew. In fact, they convened a task force of certified public accountants from across the state to address the matter. After nine months of work, including some long nights during tax season, the organization produced Financial Affairs at the End of Life” for Hospice of Michigan patients and families.

The booklet, which can be downloaded at www.micpa.org, provides a wealth of assessment and planning tools designed to ensure families can be financially prepared for the end of life.  Sections range from caring for dependents to advanced directives to estate planning with a single goal in mind: Providing objective financial information and resources.

We had been talking at a Hospice of Michigan board meeting about the fact that social workers were often asked about financial issues for a family and didn’t have the resources or the wherewithal to answer those questions,” said Trepeck, who also serves on HOM’s board of directors. “We saw the need at MICPA to give social workers the objective information they needed to provide to the families from an honest broker standpoint, if you will. Our goal was to be a resource book that has all the information on the various things that families should think about, then gives them phone numbers or points them to websites.”

For MICPA, which has nearly 18,000 member-CPAs statewide, the opportunity to fill an educational need was motivation for the project.  For Hospice of Michigan, the largest non-profit provider of hospice and palliative care services in the state, the resulting booklet filled a gap.

We walk alongside patients and families during one of the most stressful times of life,” said Robert Cahill, president and CEO of Hospice of Michigan. “Financial worries compound that stress and magnify it. We are grateful to the MICPA for giving our social workers and clinicians a valuable tool for their toolboxes with ‘Financial Affairs.’

The booklet, which has gone through multiple revisions and updates, encourages families to start by gathering detailed information on their assets and liabilities.  Sections detail what kinds of information is needed, right down to the location of safety deposit boxes and a list of employer fringe benefits.

The Planning section focuses on family, offering lots of questions to prompt discussion before decisions are made when it comes to guardians, property and advanced directives. Whom does the patient trust? Whom do the children love and trust? Is this what the patient wants? Important but difficult conversations to have.

The section also covers the basic financial tools including life insurance, pensions and other retirement accounts, as well as basic estate planning including wills, probate and trusts.

An extensive “Meeting Financial Needs” section provides an overview on short-term and long-term expenses and commitments, which often undergo a significant shift during a prolonged illness or death. Accessing resources, managing affairs and handling funeral expenses are all covered at length.

The third and final section is the one Trepeck finds herself referring to a lot: “Survivor’s Issues.” It offers a practical timeline and checklist of tasks immediately after death, two weeks after, and a month after, detailing the types of benefits from Social Security, life insurance and retirement accounts that are available.

It’s a gift for people to be able to leave their families with detailed financial information and end-of-life directives,” Trepeck said. “While they may not be easy conversations to have, they are essential to a family’s peace of mind because during a serious illness or after a death, you’re not going to be able to get this information, let alone be in a frame of mind to process the conversation.

 

MICPA developed “Financial Affairs at the End of Life” for Hospice of Michigan patients and families. The booklet can be downloaded free of charge, along with the organization’s Financial Inventory, at https://www.micpa.org/resource-center/resources-for-the-public/financial-literacy.

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Hospice of Michigan to host Rejoice and Remember Memorial Service


ENT-HospiceOfMichiganHospice of Michigan will host a Rejoice and Remember memorial service to recognize lost loved ones on Tuesday, April 12.

During the service, participants will be invited to reflect on the many ways those who have died have touched their lives. The event will include special music, inspirational messages and a reading of names. Participants are invited to bring an item of remembrance to display and refreshments will be served.

The gathering will take place from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE. This program is free and open to the community. Advance registration is requested.

The gardens, including the butterfly exhibit, will be available to tour free of charge from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information or to register, please call 616.356.5258.

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Family Conflict at End-of-Life


HEA-Hospice-Family-conflict-at-the-end

From Hospice of Michigan

When a family’s loved one is near the end of life, it can force everyone to endure financial and emotional strain, creating the perfect environment for new conflicts to arise and old ones to resurface.

Ramona Hancock, a Hospice of Michigan social worker, explains that the stress of losing a loved one, coupled with family disagreements, caregiver demands, financial struggles, cultural beliefs or the fear of death, can ignite a fuse.

As a social worker, one of Hancock’s many roles is often to help patients and their families resolve conflicts.

“In hospice, a social worker is the go-to person for anything not related to symptom management,” Hancock says. “That often means performing the role of a counselor to patients and their caregivers, although given the time frame, solving conflict at end-of-life is a lot more like crisis management than long-term counseling. Our goal is to help both the patient and the caregiver find peace and allow the patient to die comfortably.””

Hancock explains that conflict during a patient’s final days can make the dying process more challenging. And unresolved issues typically lead to a more difficult grieving process for family members. These are just some of the reasons it’s important to solve family conflict before death.

“One of the most common conflicts I see is when the family and patient are in a different place,” Hancock notes. “The patient has decided to forego medical treatment and has accepted life is nearing the end but the family isn’t ready. Another common conflict that arises is when the patient’s primary caregiver feels burned out or taken advantage of. The caregiver may direct anger at other family members who haven’t ‘stepped up.’ Sometimes the frustration is directed at the patient and, in these cases, anger is typically accompanied by guilt.”

Hancock says that regardless of what is causing the conflict, the first step in solving it is typically to listen to the patient and the family.

“While every situation is different, when I recognize conflict affecting a family, the first thing I usually do is talk to the patient and the family,” she explains. “I offer support, but let them determine what that support is. Often, people just want to talk. I try to remind the patient and family members to recognize and consider what the other person is feeling. That simple step often goes a long way in bringing the family together. When recognition and consideration of feelings aren’t enough, we can arrange a family meeting, which might even involve the nurse and social worker.

“At the end of the day, we try to remind the patient and family members the end-of-life transition is a meaningful time. It’s important for the family to be on the same page so the focus can be placed on spending quality time together in the time that’s left.”

Hancock explains that while HOM does everything in its power to bring a patient peace as the final days draw near, unfortunately, some conflicts are deeply rooted and too complicated to resolve.

“We walk into a small window of our patients lives. It’s important to recognize that there may have been a long history before we stepped in and events will continue to unfold after we’re gone,” Hancock adds. “While we do all we can to help the patient and family find peace, we must recognize that there are some things we just can’t fix. In these situations we focus on listening to our patients and helping them find acceptance.”

March is National Social Workers Month, and the theme this year is “Forging Solutions out of Challenges.”Hospice of Michigan would like to thank and acknowledge the important role that social workers play in hospice and palliative care. For more information on Hospice of Michigan and its services contact 888-247-5701 or visit www.hom.org. For more information on Social Workers Month and the value social workers provide in healthcare, visit www.socialworkers.org.

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The H Word: When is it time to call hospice?


When is it time to call hospice? While the H word scares people, Hospice of Michigan says that making the call early can enhance quality of life at the end of life.

When is it time to call hospice? While the H word scares people, Hospice of Michigan says that making the call early can enhance quality of life at the end of life.

Jane is suffering from cancer. It started in her liver and has now spread to her lungs and embedded in her bones. The chemo and radiation are not helping. But her doctor is yet to bring up hospice, the H word so many don’t want to hear.

Americans are a death-denying culture,” explains Dr. Michael Paletta, chief medical officer at Hospice of Michigan and hospice physician for 20 years. “Sometimes we don’t want to accept our own mortality. Often, patients wait until a doctor mentions end-of-life before they will even begin to wrap their minds around it. But, if patients don’t ask, doctors may continue to search out treatment options, even if a cure is unlikely.”

Paletta explains that doctors don’t always offer hospice as an option because they don’t want to deny patients a ray of hope. “Doctors take the decline and death of patients very personally,” Paletta said. They don’t want to be responsible for denying a patient the opportunity to recover, and they want to know they have done everything possible to cure their patients of illness.”

In modern medicine, it’s unusual for a doctor to feel there is nothing else to offer. There is always one more experimental drug or treatment to try; the question is what benefit will the treatment offer the patient and at what cost.

While a doctor may not want to deny hope, Paletta says it can be just as harmful to foster a patient’s unrealistic vision of recovery.

Hope comes in many shapes and forms,” Paletta said. “Instead of hoping for a cure that doesn’t exist, patients can hope to manage their pain and symptoms and improve their quality of life. This isn’t giving up hope; this is hoping for something that can actually happen and devoting energy to something that has proven to be valuable.”

Continue to pray for a miracle, but put things in place that will help you and your family. Perhaps the miracle provided is a controlled, dignified and peaceful ending of a celebrated life.

But when is the right time to consider hospice for you or your loved one?

If treatments are not going well, and if the treatment path the doctor initially laid out doesn’t seem to be working, it might be the right time to ask your doctor what’s next and when you should consider hospice,” Paletta explained. “If your doctor says it’s too soon to discuss hospice, try to get a better understanding of what the road ahead looks like in terms of treatment options. Ask when it will be appropriate to consider hospice and request specifics. This will help you gain a better understanding of the path you’re on and if you and your doctor have the same goals.”

If you aren’t satisfied with the plan your doctor has in place, seek a second option. I’m always surprised to hear that people don’t consult with another doctor. They seem to think this will offend the physician, but it’s usually welcomed. Good doctors realize that most of the time their recommendations are reinforced and a second option can actually enhance the faith and trust their patients have in them.”

Paletta notes that considering hospice isn’t a decision, it’s understanding your options. “Hospice is a choice that patients and families can make, but no one should ever be forced to make that decision,” Paletta said. “If you decide you’re not ready for hospice and you want to continue to seek out treatments, you can wait. And then it’s an informed waiting that has a specific end point rather than delaying or avoiding the decision.”

Paletta suggests that those suffering from a severe or terminal illness should contact hospice sooner rather than later, even if they aren’t necessarily ready to begin hospice care.

It’s always better for patients to reach out to a hospice organization early, rather than in a time of crisis. This gives them the time and ability to gather information about the services offered, choose the hospice organization that suits them best and make an informed decision. Hospice can even help with things like advanced directives and selecting a patient advocate.”

And perhaps most importantly, by looking into hospice options early in your illness, you’ve put yourself in a position where you can make the decision that’s right for you and take that pressure off your family.

For more information on Hospice of Michigan and the services it provides, contact 888.247.5701 or visit www.hom.org.

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