When is it Time to Think About Hospice Care?
Seeking hospice care for someone can be a difficult and confusing experience. There are many misconceptions about what hospice care is and who is eligible, which can deprive seniors and their families of a valuable resource and line of support through the final stage of life.
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice Care provides comprehensive end-of-life care and support for people who are terminally ill and their families. The care is designed to preserve the patient’s dignity, provide them with comfort and help them achieve the best quality of life possible in their final days. Hospice care offers support and relief in a number of ways including:
- Emotionally and psychologically
- Socially and Spiritually
Provided by a team of healthcare professionals and volunteers, end-of-life care is designed to provide comfort, peace, and serenity in a person’s last days. Hospice care also provides support for family members through the bereavement process.
One of the main objectives of hospice is pain and symptom management. A typical team of end-of-life caregivers may include:
- A Doctor
- Physical and/or occupational therapists
- Social workers and grief/bereavement counselors
- Complimentary therapies (i.e. massage, music therapy)
- Home care aides
- Spiritual counselors
Although hospice programs provide 24/7 access to support for emergencies, they do not cover round-the-clock care or completely take the place of dedicated caregivers.
Benefits of Hospice Care for Seniors and Families
Even with the help and support of devoted caregivers in the family and community, the needs of someone with a terminal injury or illness can be overwhelming or impossible to manage. The extra support and resources available through hospice care can make a difference.
Some of the benefits of hospice care include:
- Allowing the patient to remain in the comfort of their own home in their final days;
- Help navigating the healthcare landscape;
- Security and peace of mind for the patient’s family;
- Maintaining the patient’s dignity and the fulfillment of their wishes;
- Respite for caregivers; and
- Care and supervision for patient’s who live alone or at a distance from family and loved ones.
What Services are Available Through Hospice Care?
End-of-life care is customized to meet the individual needs of each person. Many people receive a combination of services; typical hospice and end-of-life care include:
- Medical supplies and equipment
- Pain and symptom management
- Wound care management
- Meal preparation and light errands
- Medications and help/advice with administrations
- General inpatient care
- Respite care
- Bereavement support for family members
When is Hospice Care Necessary?
Hospice care is designed to provide care and comfort for the last six months of life. The first step in setting up care is to have the patient certified eligible by their doctor and the director of the hospice program when it is determined they have approximately six months or less to live when the illness or condition runs its natural course.
According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, over a million people in the United States now receive some form of end-of-life care every year.
Common Myths About Hospice Care
Demystifying some of the most common myths and misconceptions about what hospice care is and how it works can help to eliminate some of the uncertainty and stress around the end-of-life planning process.
What hospice care is not:
- A hospital, clinic or outpatient facility — hospice care is a set of services to be provided where a patient is, be it at home, in a hospital or nursing home, for example
- A way to speed up or facilitate death in any way
- Giving up hope and/or medical treatment
- Only available for seniors
- Giving up control or the ability to make decisions about the patient’s treatment and care options
What if My Loved One Gets Better?
If care is necessary beyond the standard, six-month hospice period, the patient may restart care, and they are free to suspend services at any time. The point of hospice is to make life easier and better for and the terminally ill person and their family.
For more information on the benefits of hospice care, contact SALMON VNA & Hospice by calling 508-422-1826 and discuss your options today.