When it comes to hospice care, there are a lot of fears and misconceptions out there that hinder pursuing the best possible situation for an aging or terminally ill loved one. This can leave people confused about when is the right time to start hospice care and whether they should just leave the decision up to a doctor.
If you have questions about hospice,
call us at (702) 509-5276 or contact us online.
How Do I Know When Hospice Is Appropriate for My Loved One?
Hospice should be brought in when it becomes apparent that the individual can no longer take care of their basic care needs. Hospice professionals will provide personalized palliative care at this time. These include administering medications and making sure patients have necessary medical aids such as oxygen tanks, respirators, etc. Care providers can also provide spiritual and grief counseling services to the patient and their family to prepare everyone for the road ahead.
Hospice care providers will advise the family on the best methods for managing the individual’s end-of-life symptoms. This makes it possible for patients to pass away in as pain-free a manner as is possible. Everyone in the family benefits from this, and the sooner the hospice team is brought in, the more positive the results.
Hospice is About Living and Closure
A common misconception is that hospice providers dole out pain meds to hasten the end of someones life. Thankfully, this morbid view is far from the truth.
Once a terminal diagnosis is reached, it’s possible that many of the curative treatment options aren’t doing much good besides extending life. Hospice is intended to increase the quality of life for both the patient and the family. While this does include providing pain medication, it is in the effort of making the patient comfortable. Life is what hospice treatment focuses on; that time shouldn’t be spent under constant duress from pain or side effects of curative methods. Rather than quantity of life, hospice focuses on peace and quality of life.
Hospice offers both physical and emotional support to all. Providers understand the stress and grief families experience when facing the idea of losing a loved one; they’re meant to take on some of that burden and further ease the family’s. Hospice wants their patients and families to know: You are not alone. Losing a loved one isn’t easy, but the preparation can be enough to soften the blow.
Hospice’s goal is to not only make the patient feel physically at ease but emotionally satisfied. Whether that means bringing in a licensed counselor, a social worker, or a chaplain, hospice will provide the necessary comfort and closure.
Related: Discussing End of Life Care Options with a Terminally Ill Relative
Why Sooner is Better for Patients in Hospice
Due to misconceptions about hospice, many families tend to wait until it’s too late to receive the complete benefits of this care. A considerable amount of hospice patients pass away within approximately two weeks because many wait too long to begin. Providers recommend starting hospice as soon as treatment is no longer effective rather than when the family is too exhausted to care for their loved one themselves.
However, hospice providers admit that sometimes, health care professionals wait too long to suggest the option as well. Physicians occasionally avoid mentioning hospice so as to keep the patient under their own eye, or because discussing hospice, to them, is equivalent to admitting defeat, admitting that death is the only conclusion. However, not all hospice patients die. In some cases, people’s health improves, and they can stop hospice care. Starting hospice does not mean a patient stops fighting for life. So if the physician has not brought up hospice, families should not be afraid to initiate the discussion.
Hospice is beneficial from the get-go. Though death is a difficult subject to broach, hospice gives patients a chance to discuss matters they might not have brought up, had there been no intervention. The earlier patients begin hospice, the more ground they can cover. Often, once patients have released their underlying tension from these difficult topics, they are better able to enjoy the rest of their time with their families and loved ones. Without the extra emotional baggage, they can come to terms with their situation.
Furthermore, when hospice is there to manage patients’ pain, patients can experience their time in more comfortably. The sooner patients are recommended to hospice, the longer they have to enjoy their remaining time to the fullest. For those who wait too long, a week or two is not a substantial amount of time to both reconcile their emotional and physical needs.
What Would More Quality Days Mean for You and Your Loved One?
Time and again, hospice emphasizes that their care will bring patients “quality life.” What, exactly, is a quality day? Free from pain and discomfort, patients can focus on returning to tasks they normally did or always wished to do. Rather than spend all day inside a hospital, they can sit on their front porch, admire the garden. Patients can attempt to finish their bucket lists: say, a trip to a new state or fly in an air balloon (only if they’re medically capable, of course). Without the harsh symptoms brought on by their treatment or too much pain, patients can say goodbye to their loved ones properly. They can finalize their wills and be sure that their loved ones will be taken care of once they’re gone. Loose ends that people don’t normally consider can be tied up so as to relieve patients’ overall stress.
When Is Hospice Called In?
It is important for family members and physicians to act quickly when it becomes clear that the individual’s health is deteriorating to the point where death is a likely outcome. Hospice care begins as soon as a doctor officially declares someone having a life expectancy of six months. This does not mean that hospice only lasts for six months, just that a doctor would not be surprised if the patient passed away in six months.
As part of the process, the physician will document the patient’s overall health condition as well as any underlying medical conditions that support their assessment. These include conditions such as cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc.
Many hospice patients and their families worry about the cost of hospice care and wait until the last minute to request assistance. However, hospice services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and many not-for-profit organizations. Therefore, there’s no reason to procrastinate.
Related: 6 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Residential Hospice Provider
Should We Wait for the Doctor to Suggest Hospice?
Family members should discuss hospice care with their loved one’s doctor when it becomes apparent that the end-of-life is approaching. To avoid creating shock or stoking the family’s fears, many doctors won’t bring up the topic with guardians or spouses before the family does.
Ultimately, early discussion of hospice care is an effective method of reducing much of the fear and grief that accompany the dying process. It also makes it easier to determine what type of support will be needed and to make arrangements for any specialized treatments that may be required. This allows everyone in the family to become comfortable with the dying process and focus their energy on the journey forward.
Deciding When Is the Right Time to Start Hospice Care
When discussing hospice, it is necessary for family members to share all concerns and requests with the physician and the hospice team so that a patient’s end-of-life needs are fully met. The earlier these discussions begin, the more beneficial the services will be to everyone in the family.
If you have any questions about hospice care in Las Vegas, feel free to give us a call at (702) 509-5276.