When should one switch to hospice care for their loved one?
Hospice care involves improving the quality of life for your loved one facing a terminal illness, where all treatment options are exhausted. It is care recommended when your loved one’s health care team recognizes that he or she is likely to die within six months or less.
While it is important to understand that your loved one will not receive treatment for underlying illness, they will still get treatment for pain relief and comfort. Hospice care also offers emotional and spiritual support for them and their close family.
The objective of hospice care is, therefore, to maximize the quality of life for people in the last phases of a terminal illness by offering them comfort and dignity. Providing care for a loved one in need is an act of love, kindness, and loyalty. Day after day, you gift your loved one with attention and care, improving their quality of life, even if they are unable to express their gratitude.
Hospice is structured care designed to focus on addressing all facets of suffering, including physical symptoms, social distress, psychological and spiritual pain.
All parties involved, but especially family members recognize and understand that there is nothing more they can do for their loved one other than to offer them comfort and care to ease them into their next stage of life.
In the hospice, their loved one will receive palliative treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy among others. The goal of treatment is no longer cure but to allow the patient more physical, psychological and spiritual comfort, and to control pain.
When considering hospice care, patients should feel comfortable speaking to their doctors about the treatments they are receiving and those they want to continue receiving. A frank discussion about their treatment plan and prognosis is very important as it will help the patient and even his or her family caregivers decide if they are going to continue with curative treatment or switch to symptom management and palliative care.
If the patient or her loved ones decide to switch to hospice care, the patient, and their loved ones can begin to explore options in care. This ensures the patient is comfortable and at peace, seeing that being a patient can be very taxing, particularly someone battling cancer. That said the decision to begin hospice care is a very personal one. It should be carefully thought through with the patient, the patient’s family and doctor.
When Care Focused on Comfort is Appropriate
Hospice care is appropriate when treatment is no longer practical or tenable. At this point, all the patient needs are love from close family and care to help relieve uncomfortable symptoms like pain, nausea, and shortness of breath so they can enjoy the remainder of their life in dignity. They are often able to stay at home and are alert enough to enjoy the people around them and make important decisions.