Hospice Care as an Antidepressant?

If your husband or wife is dying and you’ve been providing care, nothing can replace those final precious days with your loved one. However, caregiving is an extremely tough row to hoe for spouses, and we’ve known for a long time now that these caregivers experience high rates of depression, burnout and anxiety, both before and after their spouse dies.

There’s some good news for couples who elect hospice care in those final weeks – new research shows that those who get help from a hospice team, such as McCortney Family Hospice in Ada and Norman, experience less depression both before and after their spouse’s death. (Seehttp://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2296007&resultClick=1.)

Why is this the case? There are many reasons. Researchers believe it’s because the hospice team – including medical directors, nurses, social workers, home health aides, chaplains and volunteers — typically relieve spouses of the more difficult aspects of providing care, such as pain and medication management, bathing and dressing. Hospice professionals also provide emotional support for the patient and the spouse, going the extra mile to help both partners fight off feelings of isolation and helplessness.

Another significant finding was that the better a patient’s quality of life was during their final week of life (as happens with hospice care), the better off emotionally a bereaved spouse was likely to be by six months down the road.

While no amount of help can rid a husband or wife of the intense grief caused by losing their life partner, the takeaway message from this research is the realization that hospice care doesn’t just benefit the patient, and it doesn’t stop helping once a patient has passed away. Here at McCortney Family Hospice we provide bereavement services to our families for a full 13 months after a patient’s death, or longer if there’s a need. The hospice team is still there to provide the support that you and your family need, and we stand ready to help all our widowed spouses as they go through the grieving process.