‘Hospice is not strictly about dying, but about living fully to the end of life’

To the Editor:

When my mother reached the end of her long battle with cancer, her doctor recommended home hospice care. Our family was grateful to remove Mom from the stress of the hospital, and relieved to learn that hospice was covered by Medicare, but we were also extremely anxious about how we could meet her needs.

Little did we know the crucial role hospice would play in our lives during her last months. The hospice nurses worked with her doctor to manage her pain and symptoms, a social worker addressed our practical issues, volunteers came often to give us a break from caregiving, and a chaplain offered us regular spiritual support and, later, bereavement counseling.

Our hospice team became like members of our own family. Because of them, Mom was able to spend her remaining time pain-free, at home and with the people she loved the most. Her passing was a peaceful and profoundly meaningful experience that comforted us immeasurably during the grieving process. I cannot imagine having gone through it without the help and support of hospice.

November is National Hospice Month, a time to celebrate hospice organizations for the wonderful and dedicated work they do in caring not just for the end-of-life patient, but their families.

As baby boomers increasingly care for aging parents, National Hospice Month is also a time to educate families about the role of hospice in medical care before a life-threatening illness occurs. Many are surprised to learn that hospice care is not strictly about death and dying, but about living fully to the end of life.

As a result of my personal hospice experience, I became a volunteer with Hospice Partners of Southern California, which serves most of West Los Angeles. Our mission is “to provide compassionate end-of-life care, emphasizing life, choice and dignity in partnership with patients, families and communities.”

During November we are especially committed to raising awareness of quality care at the end of life. All too often misinformation and cultural taboos about dying hinder families from getting help just when they may need it the most.

Enrolling a patient early in hospice care (the Medicare benefit can be chosen as early as six months prior to the predicted death) can ensure that they have the best possible quality of life and can even measurably prolong it.

If you have questions about end-of-life choices and hospice care, we can help. Please call us at (310) 264-8413, or visit our Web site, www.HospicePartners.org/.

Lori Nelson, Santa Monica Volunteer Hospice Partners of Southern California

Says, ‘Come on Santa Monica, let’s make the bike path safe’

To the Editor:

Recently I rode my bicycle from Marina del Rey to the Santa Monica Pier and I want to commend the City of Los Angeles maintenance crew for keeping the bike path free of sand and debris.

The bike path in Santa Monica was dangerously obstructed by almost a dozen sand drifts. There was one not 20 feet from the maintenance shack at the end of Ocean Park Boulevard.

Come on, Santa Monica, let’s make this bike path safe.

John K. Mc Manamy, Venice