Tuesday, May 27, 2014

PTSD at the End-Of-Life

PTSD at the End-Of-Life

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious condition that is most commonly known and seen in Veterans; however, this can affect other people who encounter or perceive a traumatic experience. According to the National Institute of Health, “PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed; the harm may have happened to a loved one; or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers.”
People who are at the end of their life often experience unique emotions or revisit memories in their past. Some memories may trigger signs and symptoms of PTSD, a condition that is being seen more commonly in Veterans who are dying, because not all emotions and memories are positive ones. In hospice, the most likely people who experience these signs and symptoms are Veterans who served in war.  It becomes a challenge for them to come to terms with those emotions and memories from their past. The negative ones often have been suppressed for so long and are revisited as they think about their life’s journey.
In order to properly help a Veteran have a better quality of life and be at peace during their end-of-life journey, hospices have to provide a specific type of care: addressing specific emotional, physical, and spiritual needs and listening to the stories these Veteran patients are communicating. In fact, many Veterans don’t communicate their emotions or thoughts from this time or show many signs or symptoms. For this reason, it is important for any new healthcare provider that begins providing care for a patient or family to ask about their military experiences to prepare for the specific Veteran care needed.

June is PTSD Awareness Month. It is a month dedicated to reaching to Veterans no matter what stage of life Veterans are in: growing into adulthood to their end-of-life journey. They may have emotions and memories that are hard to talk about. Give them peace and comfort by lending a listening ear and respecting their experiences. You could make a difference in helping them cope with their traumatic experience. When someone is dying, this can be especially important to help them accept their purpose on earth and pass more peacefully. Healthcare organizations and professionals who work with Veterans can help spread awareness about PTSD by learning signs and symptoms, providing resources and education, and helping promote recovery to those who are dealing with it. Learn more about PTSD at www.ptsd.va.gov.
Help us share, educate, and reach out by subscribing to our blog and suggesting it to friends who will spread our message: Hospice of Southern Illinois is here to teach you what hospice is, what we are about, and what we can do for you and your loved ones. No one has to go through the dying process alone. Hospice of Southern Illinois can help.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hospice: A Healing Experience

Even though many folks would prefer not to talk about death and dying, those who work in Hospice know that this is not an option. The counseling department and hospice team knows the value of offering this last healing experience to family members after their loved one has died. Bereavement support is just one of many services Hospice of Southern Illinois offers to help families cope with this portion of the end-of-life journey.
Bereavement is defined as the condition of having been deprived of something or someone valued, especially through death. Also, bereavement can be a state of intense grief after the loss of a loved one.
At Hospice of Southern Illinois, the counseling department works very hard to help families heal and cope with their loss. Calls are made to the family within 7 days of the loved one passing. Then, one of the bereavement counselors will follow up again within 30 days to see how the family continues to fare. Each person’s healing and coping process varies. So, if a visit or an appointment to see the family is needed to discuss the loss of their loved one, this is a time when families can do that to get the extra support they may need. One-on-one support is not always the best option for everyone. Hospice of Southern Illinois hosts several grief groups and a lunch gathering for widows and widowers which are available on a monthly basis. Further, for a more personal experience, the counseling department follows-up with calls on the loved one’s birthday and one-year anniversary of the death of the loved one. For the first year of the loss of a loved one, these can be especially difficult times.
No one has to go through the dying process alone. Hospice of Southern Illinois can help. If you or a family member is experiencing grief, please call 1-800-233-1708 to speak with one of the members from our experienced and dedicated counseling team.

Offered by Cathy Knowlton, MA, MAPS, LPC
Chaplain/Bereavement Counselor