When thinking of the term “hospice”, you may tend to think of care regarding an elderly individual with their physical needs due to their age or a physical health condition. However, it is just as important for someone in hospice to receive care regarding their mental health.
According to the Hospice Foundation of America, hospice is defined as “medical care to help someone with a terminal illness live as well as possible for as long as possible, increasing quality of life” and it is “focused on both the dying person and their entire family”. Providing for the individual’s mental health is one way to increase their quality of life.
Mental Health Affects Physical Health
It’s not unusual for someone who is elderly or terminally ill to experience a strain on their mental health. With such a significant portion of the elderly and assisted living population likely to need both mental and physical health needs met, it’s important to understand how their mental health influences their overall health.
Untreated mental illnesses can manifest with physical symptoms. For instance, someone with depression may not only suffer mentally and emotionally, but they may also experience aches and fatigue.
There are other ways mental illness can affect a hospice patient’s life.
- Drug abuse
- Family conflicts
- Lower quality of life
- Increases the likelihood of heart disease, obesity, gastronomical problems, and other physical ailments
Hospice workers should work to recognize and help their patients when they are having trouble with their mental health since it influences every part of that person’s life.
What Hospice Workers Can Do for the Patient
Fortunately, there are a number of ways caregivers help their patients with their mental health needs. The first thing is to recognize when a potential mental illness isn’t being addressed.
They can also:
- Ensure the care receiver is taking their medications for their mental illness.
- Help them participate in meditation or other at-home techniques for mental health.
- Refer them to a specialist if needed.
How Hospice Can Help the Family’s Mental Health
Family members may be struggling with their mental health in relation to what is going on with the family member receiving hospice care. Hospice workers can help them understand and come to terms with the changing health of their loved one.
Hospice and assisted living centers also relieve stress from the family by ensuring their loved one’s needs are taken care of.
Hospice aims to provide the patient with an environment in which they can live to their fullest for their remaining days. That’s why it makes sense for the patient’s mental health to be part of hospice care. Properly cared for mental health promotes the quality of life that hospice is supposed to help its patients achieve.