The meaning of hospice care is often misunderstood. Here’s the facts you should know if you’re considering hospice for your loved one.
What is hospice care?
Before we describe what hospice is, we should first talk about what it isn’t.
Hospice isn’t a place.
Hospice is not about giving up.
Hospice does not speed up someone’s death.
A common misconception is that hospice is a place – a facility that patients go to before they pass away. While there are some in-patient hospice clinics, the vast majority of hospice patients actually receive care in their homes. This way, they can live out their lives in familiar settings, surrounded by their memories and their loved ones.
The hospice discussion can be very difficult and uncomfortable for a patient and his or her family members. Most people think hospice only helps during a patient’s last few days of life. However, we can bring comfort, care and support to patients and their families much earlier than that.
We know that referring a loved one to hospice care is not an easy decision. But please realize that it doesn’t mean you’ve given up on them. Quite the opposite! Hospice gives a new meaning to hope by helping patients find peace and the freedom from pain and aggressive medical treatments. When your loved one is in hospice care, you’re giving them the chance to experience the highest quality of life possible during their remaining time. There are so many benefits to hospice care. It gives patients control over their health and helps them to avoid unnecessary hospital visits. It also gives patients and their families the additional care and support that they need. In fact, many families tell us that they wish they had contacted us sooner.
In some cases, patients actually outlive their prognosis or even recover. Hospice is not a death sentence. It is simply a service that patients receive to make them as comfortable as possible after they have stopped medical treatment for a terminal illness.
Our hospice care team specializes in helping patients control pain and manage symptoms. This allows for more happy moments with family and friends. Whether you’re living in a family home, a nursing home or in an assisted living facility, our healthcare professionals and volunteers will come to you to assist with any physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
If you’re considering hospice care, these are questions to ask your physician:
- How do you expect my condition to progress in the next year?
- What symptoms might I experience?
- Will my treatments cure or slow down my illness?
- Will the treatments stop my pain?
- Will the treatments make me sick?
- You’re living with an advanced, serious illness.
- You have had 2 or more hospitalizations in the last 3 months.
- You take 9 or more scheduled medications daily.
- Your pain is increasing and medication is not helping to control it.
- Your treatments are no longer working.
- You feel tired and are often short of breath.
- Your appetite has decreased.
- You have difficulty walking, putting on your clothes or using the bathroom.
- You are uncertain about treatment options and decisions.
A terminal diagnosis doesn’t just affect a patient. It effects their entire family. Our professional and volunteer staff knows how important your loved one is to you. We’re here to serve families as much as we are patients.
If your loved one begins feeling pain or symptoms, our hospice nurses can provide care so you don’t have to make a hospital visit. If you’re having difficulty bathing or grooming your loved one, our home aides can do the job for you.
Our social workers and chaplains can help you cope with the difficult emotions and stress you may be feeling. This doesn’t stop when your loved one passes away. Our bereavement team is here for you as long as you need us.