PLATTSBURGH — Coming to grips with death is never easy.Hospice of the North Country's End-of-Life Care and Planning Symposium, to be held Saturday at Stafford Middle School, will touch on important issues that deal with a person's last months and days.Attending the event will be Stephan Kiernan, a former Burlington Free Press columnist and author of the book "Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life From the Medical System."A panel of speakers, including Hospice Medical Director Dr. John Homer, will answer questions about topics such as nursing and funeral homes, legal issues, care directives and estate planning."Through the symposium, we want to empower the public with the tools they need to choose the way their end-of-life experience happens," said Carrie Fesette, the hospice's director of development. "One thing people don't really know about Hospice is that it really is for anybody."Fesette added that Hospice sometimes has a negative stigma attached to it, that many people see reaching out to the agency as a sign of giving up."It's not about that," she said. "It's about living your life to the fullest and enjoying it. It's about people spending their last days the way they want them to be spent."Hospice believes in quality of life rather than quantity of life. Through Hospice, quality medical and emotional care is given to both the patient and their families.Whereas a hospital is perceived as a place of care, Hospice is more of a concept."We approach end of life in such a comforting way," Fesette said, adding that although the issue of afterlife is touched upon, it is more of a personal religious choice."We are more concerned with the celebration of life, as well as the grieving process."Fesette noted that although Hospice is often seen as only for elderly people or people who are terminally ill, it is open to family members and anyone to whom death has taken on a new sense of reality."It's not about age or illness. It's for people who have come to a phase in their lives when they think about planning."The symposium, which is open to the public, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m."Hospice is about end-of-life care with dignity," Fesette said. "It's about how you live your life."
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