Letter to the Editor

November great time for family discussion

Thursday, November 17, 2016

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Awareness Month. November is also a time when families get together for holiday celebrations. That makes November a great opportunity to have discussions about what matters, in life, in health, but also in sickness and end of life.

Last February I was hired to work as the director of Putnam County Hospice and Palliative Care Association, I have learned about this expanding movement across America. The association’s mission is “to enhance the quality of life and reduce suffering by increasing the number of Putnam County residents who experience the benefits of utilizing hospice and palliative care services, through education of medical care providers and residents of Putnam County, and by providing support, care coordination, and navigational resources.”

We hope to raise awareness about hospice services and the need for conversations about end of life care. I became acutely aware of the need to have a Healthcare Representative, someone who knows my wishes and can speak for me, should I be unable to speak for myself.

I began to answer that question, “What Matters?” I started having conversations with my children, my sister and my mom, who is 80 and has everything in place (except who will get the dishes). I began to learn about the documents: Living Will, Healthcare Representative form, Out of Hospital DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), and the POST (Physician’s Orders for Scope of Treatment).

I began to realize having these conversations is the greatest gift you can give your children so they will not be burdened with guilt or regret wondering if they made the right choices. They will know how to make the right choice because you talked with them about it.

I have read some eye-opening books, had some great training and have made some important decisions about “What Matters.”

We often think of November as the month of gratitude. Why not share that gratitude with your family and friends by talking to them about what you are grateful for and what matters to you in life and in death?

Tammy Hunter


Putnam County Hospice

and Palliative Care