Hospice provides expert medical care with the unique goal of maintaining or improving the quality of life for someone facing a terminal illness. In hospice, curative practices are replaced with treatment to ease their pain and suffering. It’s administered by a team of skilled nurses, therapists and counselors, and can take place at the patient’s home, nursing home or hospital facility.
Each patient’s individualized care plan is updated as needed to address the physical, emotional and spiritual pain that often accompanies terminal illness. Hospice also provides support to the patient’s family during this time. These are just a few of many reasons you shouldn’t delay starting hospice care.
Key things to know about hospice care
Hospice is available to a patient and their family when curative measures have been exhausted and their healthcare provider has certified a life prognosis of six months or less to live.
This condition can be difficult to predict, though. According to Diane Meier, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care, “Many people are fearful that if they choose hospice, they won’t be able to return to mainstream medicine should they improve or new treatments become available — that’s not true.”
Families fear that enrolling their loved one in hospice is “giving up” when in fact, evidence suggests that patients live just as long if not longer than other patients’ suffering a similar illness. Hospice care can be extended beyond six months. Or if for some reason a patient’s condition stabilizes and they want to pursue curative treatment again, they can leave the program.
However, the largest problem we see in the hospice industry is patients waiting too long to enroll. Patients may spend months in and out of hospitals with their families struggling to attend appointments and coordinate transportation.
At a point, families and doctor’s realize that hospice is appropriate for the patient’s condition. But, that usually happens much later than it should. When patients are referred nearing the end of their life, they don’t receive the full benefits hospice has to offer.
Hospice care can help ease patients’ suffering by treating symptoms like nausea, shortness of breath and depression. Emergency room visits and hospitalizations can be stressful on patients and their family members while hospice can be administered in the comfort of their own home – helping them achieve the highest quality of life in a safe and familiar environment.
When is the right time to enroll a loved one in hospice?
Patients, doctors and their families should have ongoing discussions long before hospice is necessary. Sometimes, a patient may wish to improve the quality of their last days rather than continuing curative treatment with unpleasant side effects.
If you haven’t discussed hospice with your loved one, now is the best time to do so. If you need help leading the discussion with your family, our team has provided some key points and recommendations here.
If your loved one faces a terminal illness and is having difficulty with self-care, hospice can step in an assist where needed. Patients often experience an improved and sometimes eliminated presence of symptoms.
It may be difficult discussing mortality with a loved one. But, saving the conversation towards their last days is much more difficult. To learn more about hospice and how you can enroll a loved one, give us a call at (405) 360-2400 in Norman or (580) 332-6900 in Ada.
We proudly serve families in various counties of Oklahoma including Canadian, Grady, Oklahoma, Cleveland, McLain, Garvin, Murray, Carter, Lincoln, Pottawatomie, Pontotoc, Johnson, Seminole, Hughes, Coal, Pittsburg, Atoka and more!
Wondering how hospice can help your loved one?
In our latest resource, we provide an in-depth explanation of hospice’s components and explain the services involved in the program. Click below to access your free guide now.