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Understanding options for end-of-life care

Hospice care teams help patients and families prepare both practically and emotionally for the final months of life. Sponsored by EvergreenHealth.

For loved ones with advanced illness, hospice teams can provide the care needed, while helping the patient and family understand what’s happening and navigate the end of life. 

EvergreenHealth has options for in-home hospice care across King and Snohomish counties and also has an in-patient facility.

“That beautiful facility is intended to be a cross between a home environment, so it’s very cozy and comfortable, but it also allows us the ability to care for people who really need more in-depth symptom management,” said Dr. Hope Wechkin, medical director of EvergreenHealth Hospice and Palliative Medicine in Kirkland.

Hospice teams often hear that families wish they had known their options sooner. When a loved one is navigating a terminal diagnosis, thinking about hospice care and having important conversations as early as possible can alleviate burdens later. 

“All over the country we’ve seen a big change in the last 10, 15, 20 years, in which there’s really an effort to make people understand how the system of care works and remove some of the fear and stigma of even talking about the reality that we all have an end of life,” Dr. Wechkin said. 

There are also efforts to get healthy, young people to talk about their preferences if they get in an accident or become seriously ill. Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest is focused on helping to make and honor those choices.

A common misconception of hospice care is that it’s reserved for those in the last days or weeks of life. Patients, though, can be in hospice care for several months. A person becomes eligible for hospice care when it appears to their providers that it’s more likely than not that they’re in the last six months of life. 

“This idea that hospice is just when you’re in the very last days of your life, that’s a big misunderstanding,” Dr. Wechkin said. 

Another misconception is that you have to be in a facility to receive hospice care. 

“The vast majority of hospice care is provided to people right where they are with their families, with their pets, with everybody around them who they love in their own homes.”

When seeking hospice care options, it’s important to look at ratings and reviews, talk to others who may have experience with loved ones’ end-of-life care and ask important questions. To learn more about hospice care at EvergreenHealth, visit the EvergreenHealth website.  

Segment Producer Rebecca Perry. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day.  

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