Sandra Cook | End of life care when living with a terminal disease

I had the opportunity to meet with Karen Whitley Bell, a hospice nurse from Portland, Ore. and author of "Living At The End of Life."

During our meeting, we talked about the difference that it can make in people’s life taking a different approach when living with a terminal disease. Focusing on living not dying can help not only people suffering from a terminal disease, but those at any other stage of life.

When our loved ones are diagnosed with a terminal disease, the right questions may be asked to your medical provider, including, “How long do I have to live” and “What options are there for me?" When physicians are honest with people and let them know the expected length of life, a patient is also empowered to decide how they choose to live it.

End of life care is not just for the last days of your life. Karen mentioned that 35 percent of families select to use hospice when their loved ones have seven days or less to live and 50 percent within two weeks. By doing this, families miss on the opportunity of being there for their loved ones as they are exhausted after caring for their loved one so long.

Choosing the way we live our last years or last months must include things that make us feel happy: are you happy in your current environment, do you have a purpose, is there a good balance between your spiritual life and physical strength?

People suffering from a terminal disease have already lost so much, the freedom to eat what they want, mobility, friends and family in many cases, but helping them by recognizing their loss and giving them choices will make them feel respected.

In the King County area, both palliative and hospice services are available to you that focus on providing care designed to minimize symptoms and control pain.

Many places also offer short term hospice stays, providing a furnished apartment, supplies and care to make your loved one comfortable, charging on a daily basis.

Aegis Lodge is hosting Karen Bell for a seminar on "Living with a Terminal Disease" at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4. To RSVP, please call 425-814-2841. Event is free to attend and first 10 people to tour the community will also receive a free copy of her book.

Sandra Cook is the marketing director for Aegis Lodge in Kirkland. Contact her at 425-814-2841.

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