Watching as someone you love struggles with a terminal illness is heartbreaking.
While you naturally don’t want to think about losing someone that you love, it is also important to remember that you play a valuable role in protecting their dignity and comfort at this stage in their life.
Right now, you are trying to learn more about hospice care, which is a strong sign that you need answers to your questions about how to care for your terminally ill loved one over the next few weeks or months.
Now that you are ready to learn more about hospice care, you can use this guide to help you know if it is time to add new options to your loved one’s current care plan.
What Is Hospice?
Hospice is a specialized type of care that involves a wide range of services that are carefully tailored to meet someone’s needs once they reach the point of being considered terminally ill.
In most situations, the person has progressed beyond or opted out of curative treatment and is now ready to focus on palliative care and end-of-life services.
When your loved one is ready for hospice, there are still many things that caregivers and nurses can do to help them cope with their disease. Symptom management, infection control and assistance with the activities of daily living are all things that a hospice service provider can do to make end-of-life care easier for everyone. Your family and loved one can also receive spiritual support that fits your beliefs and allows you to all find comfort during this difficult time.
Common Misconceptions About Hospice
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about hospice care that continue to circulate today.
It is important for you to understand that calling for these services does not mean that you are giving up on your loved one. In fact, your loved one can change their care plan at anytime that they have a shift in their health or choose to pursue curative treatment that alleviates their need for hospice services.
You should also know that hospice is not a specific place. While some people choose to go to a long term care facility, others choose to receive hospice care services at home. For someone who only has a few weeks to live, a long term care facility often does not make sense.
If this is the type of situation that your loved one is in, then hospice care can allow your loved one to live out the rest of their time in the comfort of their home. Many families prefer the privacy and comfort that this arrangement provides since you can avoid things such as visiting hours and instead spend as much time together as possible.
Who Is Eligible for Hospice Care?
In most cases, your loved one will need to have a diagnosed disease or other health condition with a prognosis that involves them not being expected to live beyond six months. In some cases, your loved one may continue to live beyond six months after they begin to receive hospice care. If this happens, they can have their physician renew their eligibility so that they can continue to receive services that keep them comfortable.
Types of Services Provided by Hospice
The primary purpose of hospice care is to provide symptom management services that ease the discomforts that occur with a terminal illness. For instance, a hospice nurse can show your family how to provide natural pain relief care to your loved one such as therapeutic massage.
If medications are prescribed to address pain and other symptoms, then your loved one’s caregiver can help manage them all to make sure that they are taken correctly. Medication management becomes especially important as your loved one begins to take multiple prescriptions that are hard to keep track of.
Hospice services can also provide and help maintain equipment that your loved one needs to feel comfortable. Many families are uncomfortable with hand