The Importance of Finding Hospice Care Early
“Without hospice, I never could have kept my husband at home for the last months of his life,” insists Heidi Troxell. “I wanted him to die at home, in a peaceful, familiar environment, and hospice made it possible.”
A resident of Fairhaven, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Sykesville, Maryland, Troxell had watched her husband fight a ten-year battle with prostate cancer. “For six years he was symptom free, but his PSA [prostate specific antigen] score kept getting worse. When we lived in New York, he underwent experimental treatments at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, but nothing worked,” Troxell explains. “Finally, we looked at each other, and we both just knew. We had been toying with the idea of moving to Fairhaven, and we decided it was time.”
After the move, Troxell’s husband continued to undergo chemotherapy treatments at Carroll Cancer Center. “Eventually, his physician told us there was nothing more that could be done, which was very difficult for him to admit to us. Although we had access to Fairhaven’s excellent nursing facility, I preferred to keep my husband in our cottage, but I needed help. Carroll Hospice was recommended and I contacted them right away,” Troxell recalls.
Troxell and her husband relied on Carroll Hospice home care for the next six months. “They provided outstanding care to my husband, and supported me every step of the way. From mastering his medication regimen to moving him around, there was a lot for me to learn. But I knew I could call them at any time, even
10 p.m. on Saturday night, and they would help us.”
Troxell was particularly impressed with the hospice nurses and aides: “They were so gentle with my husband. They treated him with respect and even humor when appropriate. I remember the day my husband died, a nurse came to our home late on a Friday night, in a horrible rainstorm, to make a legal death pronouncement, just so I wouldn’t have to call the police to do it.”
Now, Troxell extols the benefits of hospice care””and the importance of requesting it early. “I tell people not to wait until the last minute to call hospice. It’s hard, because it means facing the fact that a loved one is dying, but it really is the best thing you can do, for yourself and your loved one. The earlier you call, the more hospice can do to help you.”