The Gift of Hospice now in Panama
Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to get very familiar with the concept of hospice, and how it can help your loved one as they prepare to die.
My own grandmother was in the process of dying, and she was many miles away. I dealt with my own process of losing her- from afar – by becoming a hospice volunteer in the city where we lived. Serving in that capacity for two years, I realized how this type of a system aids those in the process of dying, and supports their loved ones who care for them, was such a valuable addition to society.
Panama now has Hospice Care for Expats
I’d heard of this new hospice foundation here in the city of Panama earlier this year.
An introductory seminar was offered at one of the local bookstores – Exedra Books – in the city to brief those local expats about what hospice means via the new Panama Hospice & Respite Foundation, and what all it entails. (Lots of people are familiar with the word ‘hospice’ but don’t really get what it is and what it does.)
While I didn’t make the seminar, a friend sent me some of the stats, and that’s what I’ll share with you here below.
Hospice provides support for your near-death family members
The new Panama Hospice & Respite Foundation provides hospice care to English speaking expats in the country.
The group began their volunteer services late last year in the city of Panama. They have recently expanded their hospice offerings to the Pacific coast beaches – especially in the retiree-friendly Coronado area.
What does having access to hospice care mean for expats in Panama?
Obviously, when you live in Panama, you’re far from your home country, and most likely your family of origin (unless they came with you).
This is especially true for many retirees.
When an aging expat is diagnosed with a terminal illness or finds themselves at the end of their life, dealing with either of these situations can be especially challenging when you are not fluent with the local language. In this case, Spanish is the mother tongue in Panama.
Because getting ill or getting close to the end of your life is a very emotional time, the comfort of knowing you have a group that can assist you during these times, especially when you have chosen to live in Panama is really wonderful.
What does hospice in Panama currently offer?
Hospice care is a service offering terminally ill (or dying) patients medical aid and support. Hospice workers – often volunteers – can also support the family in the home, related to the care of the patient – like sitting with the patient while the family member goes to the supermarket, works elsewhere in the home, or simply needs to get out of the house.
Most hospice care is provided in the family home, versus a hospital.
The hospice group in Panama will also come do a patient assessment, as well as an assessment of the main caregiver in the home, to determine what other support might be needed in the home. Panama Hospice & Respite Foundation also maintains and lends out medical equipment, like wheelchairs, walkers and hospital beds. This is great, because all of this type of thing adds up quickly.
Hospice care will also recommend and arrange consultations with Panama physicians, if the patient does not have established relationships with local providers. They can also assist with other related subject matter: legal documentation, estate planning and health insurance.
Panama Hospice & Respite Foundation is a comforting option for expats
As an aging expat in Panama myself, it’s comforting to know that if I became seriously ill, or my husband did, that we could call the Panama Hospice & Respite Foundation for assistance and help. Becoming ill – especially seriously ill – in a country other than your own can be daunting.
It’s fantastic that this new hospice group has come together – mostly through the aid of local expats formerly trained in the healthcare and medical fields – to provide this type of access here in Panama.
For more general information on healthcare systems in Panama like how to find a doctor, as well as specifics on quality of care and access, read Chapter 9 of my second book, The Gringo Guide to Panama II: More to Know Before You Go.
If you’re interested in more information about the Panama Hospice & Respite Foundation, visit their website here. You can also reach a local coordinator by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on expat life in Panama
See these other recent posts: