October 25, 2015 | Las Vegas Review-Journal
by Steven Moore
Hundreds of years ago, the word hospice meant only one thing: offering shelter to travelers.
Today, many people see hospice as giving up, doing nothing.
Hospice care providers work to dispel those misconceptions as they change the focus to a different set of goals: comfort and quality of life.
“If you have a patient with intractable symptoms — nausea, vomiting, pain, delirium, whatever it is — you justify going up on doses of medications to assuage the pain and the suffering,” said Dr. Warren Wheeler, the senior director of palliative medicine at Nathan Adelson Hospice. “Your intent is not to hasten their death. Your intent is that when they do die, they’re going to die comfortably, not seizuring, not in pain and not vomiting.”
Hospice is a means of providing compassionate care for people in the last stages of incurable disease, including physical therapy, spiritual and emotional support, companionship, even the fulfillment of lifelong wishes. A hospice referral can be made for patients diagnosed with a terminal illness who have a life expectancy of six months or less if the disease progresses along its expected course.