When it comes to talking about death, most people would simply prefer to avoid it to prevent discomfort and sadness. However, it is a fact that death is a part of life, and it is something we all have in common. Coping with terminal illness and death can be difficult, but hospice care can provide some solace and comfort toward the end of a patient’s life. Whether you or a loved one have received a terminal diagnosis, considering hospice care could be a suitable course to offer relief and support during that difficult time.
What Is Hospice Care?
The primary goal of hospice care is to give patients and caregivers support in areas such as pain relief, symptom management, and spiritual or emotional distress. Hospice care can also ensure patients receive consistent care that fulfills their wishes. As patients near the ends of their lives, the model and philosophy of hospice care serves to alleviate unnecessary suffering and usher in as much peace and comfort as possible.
Patients who receive hospice care will no longer undergo treatments with the exception of practices that enable symptom relief. This is because hospice care aims to improve quality of life rather than pursuing a cure or life prolongation. Rather than enforcing treatments that may contribute to a lower quality of life with minimal benefits, hospice care allows patients and caregivers to retain autonomy and make decisions that are best suited to what the patients actually want out of their care.
Who Should Consider Hospice Care
Patients and caregivers may decide to pursue hospice care for a number of reasons. Typically, patients who have received a terminal diagnosis and are approaching the final months or weeks of their lives or who have determined that quality of life is more important than treatments or therapies with different priorities. It is understood by patients who participate in a hospice program that their condition is not responding favorably to current treatment, that their condition is unlikely to improve, and that their life may be coming to an end in the near future. This understanding is important because hospice care cannot be provided in tandem with any treatments geared toward curing a patient’s condition, such as some chemotherapy regimens. Patients receiving hospice care will only undergo treatments and therapies to improve their overall quality of life as much as possible.
Hospice care may be a suitable course for patients who either no longer benefit from disease-modifying treatments or who endure a greater number of burdens or side effects than benefits from such treatments. Severe psychological and physical distress, decreased mobility or functionality, and general low quality of life are also common contributing factors to hospice care considerations. Patients whose health is rapidly declining, resulting in a greater frequency of severe symptoms, medical crises, or hospitalizations also consider hospice care to reduce these effects and promote a better quality of life.
If you or a loved one believe that current treatments are ill-suited or detrimental and quality of life is suffering as a result, considering hospice care as an alternative could be more comfortable toward the end.
Benefits of Receiving Hospice Care
When coping with the terminal illness of a loved one or facing the end of your own life, hospice care can help alleviate some of the most stressful and painful aspects. Hospice can provide patients with treatment geared toward pain and symptom relief to promote better daily experiences and a higher quality of life overall. Patients can also easily receive essential equipment, medication, and other medical supplies through hospice care. Some hospice care providers offer specialized services such as physical therapy to improve patient independence, functionality, and mobility, as well.
For caregivers and patients alike, hospice care provides respite from pain and challenges associated with terminal conditions. Programs often offer educational opportunities for caregivers to improve the care they are able to provide in addition to short-term in-patient stays at hospitals or other facilities to give caregivers an opportunity to rest without putting the patient at risk.
Hospice care is an indicator that the end of a patient’s life is drawing closer, and while death can be a difficult concept to grapple with, hospice care providers may offer emotional and spiritual support for patients as well as bereavement counseling and other mental health services for family members or caregivers.
Patients can receive hospice care at home or in a medical facility, and while their families or other primary caregivers will be tasked with much of the care required to support the patient, hospice care provides resources, education, and valuable services to keep patients content and comfortable while also giving patients’ families a sense of peace.
Above all else, hospice care can provide relief, comfort, and dignity to those who are terminally ill by supplying them with support and care that align with their wishes. Hospice care is a worthwhile investment for patients who want to live out the rest of their lives with dignity, autonomy, and comfort. Patients, caregivers, and involved medical professionals should be willing to consider hospice care for patients who have received a limited prognosis in order to give them the opportunity to prioritize comfort and minimize pain.