End of life is a transitional time as humans, like all living things, die. The difference between humans and other species, however, is that we have ways to make that transition easier for those who are experiencing such a poignant phase. Hospice care is one way to deepen and enrich those last weeks, months, or even years.
Hospice care is a very specific kind of care, 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 those benefits are not only for the person facing end of life, but their loved ones as well. The goal of hospice is to provide as much comfort as possible by focusing on physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Hospice counseling can also help individuals and their families understand and accept the process of dying by offering a network of support.
What Is Palliative Care?
When a patient is at any stage of a serious or chronic illness, palliative care can be enlisted to provide pain relief and symptom management. Palliative care focuses on improving quality of life. 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 care is intended for patients who may or may not have not been diagnosed with a terminal illness. For patients who have received a terminal diagnosis and have opted to cease curative therapies, hospice care can provide immediate and meaningful benefits.
What Is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is 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 is meant for people of any age, those with end-stage chronic illnesses, and for those suffering from progressive degenerative diseases. 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, factoring 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 that can be very complicated and challenging.
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 their physician. It is well-advised to discuss end-of-life care well before hospice gets involved, so that a person is able to 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 facility.
Let Senior Care Authority help you and your loved one find the right care at the right time. Reach out today.