The power of caring

Published 5:20 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Along with every joy in life comes the sorrow of death, and so many families are lucky enough to have a network of caregivers to usher their loved ones through that transition.

November is Home Care and Hospice Month, in which the millions of people working in the hospice community — nurses, home health aides, therapists and social workers — are honored for the in-home care they deliver to patients.

According to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, in 2016, home care providers traveled 7.6 billion miles to deliver services, because 90 percent of Americans “want to age in place, and home care is the preferred method of health care delivery among the disabled, elderly and chronically ill.”

Home care workers provide services to more than 5 million Americans every year; in North Carolina, that number is more than 400,000. That service is invaluable, not only because it allows people the dignity of spending their last moments in familiar environments, surrounded by family and friends, but because it provides much-needed reinforcement for those family members acting as primary caregivers. Caregiver burnout is a very real issue, and hospice workers are the first line of defense against it and having to put a loved one in much more expensive institutional settings.

More important, many home health care workers’ roles eventually reach beyond companion and friend to that of extended family.

Every life suffers without care and compassion. For those who work in home care and hospice, it’s literally their job. This month, take the time to acknowledge these special people.