There comes a point in everyone’s life when their time on earth draws to a close. People, like all living things, die. The difference with us, however, is that we have ways to make that transition easier for those who are on the verge of it and for their loved ones. One of the most important ways we do that is through hospice care.
Hospice care is a very specific kind of caregiving, part of broader palliative care, that meets the needs of the terminally ill and those who are part of their lives. The benefits of hospice care are many, and it’s meant for people of all ages. The goal of this caregiving is to provide as much comfort as possible by focusing on the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of patients. Hospice counseling can also help patients and families understand and accept the process of dying and offer a network of support.
What Is Palliative Care?
When a patient is at any stage of a serious or chronic illness, palliative care can step in to provide pain relief and symptom management. Palliative care focuses on improving quality of life while acknowledging the illness, oftentimes cancer, heart or lung conditions, or liver or kidney diseases.
Patients who are receiving palliative care can undergo treatment for their illness at the same time and may even see a cure or reversal of symptoms. Unlike hospice care, palliative caregiving is intended for patients who have not been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
For patients who’ve received such a diagnosis, hospice care can provide immediate and meaningful benefits to patients and their families.
What Is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is a specific type of palliative care that’s provided to terminally ill patients who typically have six months or less to live, although many patients live longer than that and continue to receive this specialized care up until their time of death.
It’s meant for patients of any age, those with end-stage chronic illnesses, and for patients suffering from progressive degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Because the physical and emotional challenges of a terminal illness can be overwhelming, hospice care is delivered by a team of compassionate and experienced professionals who add to the care offered by loved ones, each member with their own specialty. This team usually includes:
- Doctors and nurses
- Social workers
- Home health aides
- Trained volunteers
An individualized plan is put in place that factors in the patient’s (and family’s) physical, emotional, and spiritual needs while taking care to manage symptoms and pain.
Medical equipment, including specialized beds and wheelchairs, can also be provided, as can the arrangement of meal prep and light housekeeping.
In short, hospice care benefits are comprehensive and designed to address a wide range of needs during what is usually a very complicated and challenging time.
What Hospice Care Is Not
Contrary to what many might think, the scheduling of hospice care does not mean the patient is days or weeks away from death. As explained earlier, hospice is typically arranged when a patient has roughly six months to live, as determined by a doctor.
But it’s a very good idea to discuss end-of-life care well before hospice gets involved, so that patients can make their feelings known ahead of time, and families have a chance to accept the service not just as a reflection of circumstances but as an important and valuable resource.
Many people also think hospice care can only be offered in a specialized setting, away from a patient’s home, but in fact, that’s not the case. One of the most important benefits of hospice care is that it can be delivered at home, in the home of a loved one, in a nursing home or assisted living environment, or other long-term care for elderly.
Let Senior Care Authority help you and your loved one find the right care at the right time. Reach out today.