The Advantages of Prioritizing Hospice Care

When it comes to hospice care, is earlier better? It may seem daunting to make the decision to begin this type of end-of-life support for a loved one, as it means accepting that their time is limited. However, this choice can be pretty empowering as well, as several helpful benefits become accessible for both the patient and their family. For those receiving hospice services, there are a range of valuable resources available. This can include professional help with medical paperwork and personal care for home health aides. Comfort medications can be delivered to the residence, along with any needed medical equipment, such as mechanized beds. Furthermore, spiritual care—either religious or associated with life review—is accessible from dementia specialists.

Registered dietitians also provide advice on the nutrition needs of patients, and volunteers will work to supply both companionship and relief for family members. Grief support is provided, and there is always 24/7 triage assistance for urgent issues which arise outside regular hours.

Shockingly, the utilization of hospice as a Medicare benefit in the United States is drastically lower than expected. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s report for 2020, which analyzed data from 2018, it was discovered that more than half of patients received hospice care for only 30 days or less. To make matters worse, an appalling 27.9 percent were provided with hospice services for one to seven days.

Hope Hospice aims to provide families of qualified hospice patients with far more than care for a short time. Often, the families have expressed that they wish they had started hospice earlier. Receiving assistance during this sensitive period is incredibly beneficial and something that cannot be quantified.

What Prevents Families from Engaging Hospice Care on Time?

Despite medical technology advances, living longer doesn’t come easy for those suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses. Nowadays, treatments can help extend a person’s life span. It is often the goal of both patients and families to try every possible solution that could offer even slight improvement.

When managing a chronic illness, we must consider the treatments that can potentially slow its course and the patient’s quality of life. Take, for instance, a person with cancer who undergoes chemotherapy or other forms of therapy—some may achieve remission, and others won’t experience much improvement. Even though successful treatment is possible, there are often harsh side effects associated with them. Additionally, many diseases have persistent symptoms that lead to continuous hospital stays.

Hope is a factor that many people take into account when deciding to start hospice care. To some, it may feel like saying goodbye, as though hospice implies there is no more hope for their loved one to get better. Decisions that involve such strong emotions are understandably tricky and filled with stress.

At some time or another, death is a reality that needs to be faced. Hospice care allows individuals to live out their final days in the comfort of their homes while still receiving top-notch medical attention. The hospice team provides support and resources for families caring for loved ones throughout this process and closely monitors medications to keep them comfortable and alert. In essence, hospice was created with one goal: helping individuals make the most of every day they have left.

Acknowledging Our Grief: A Universally shared Experience

Grief is not merely something that happens after a loss; anticipatory grief can be just as intense. This refers to the sadness one experiences when anticipating the passing of a beloved. Such pre-emptive sorrow can play a significant role in hospice care, and family members must be given space to process their emotions as they deal with anticipatory grief in their way.

Fear of the future may prevent a family from being prepared to initiate hospice care. Anticipatory grief, sadness, and mourning that come with knowing what lies ahead could be the root of this reluctance.

From the medical team to chaplain and grief counselors, there are numerous members of the hospice program that can provide much-needed support for both the patient and their family. Initiating hospice care at an earlier point in time can be beneficial in creating a more comfortable experience for the patient and helping the family come to terms with their upcoming loss. Mainly, a social worker, chaplain, or bereavement counselor often facilitates meaningful conversations about grief.

The Difficult Decision: Deciding to Begin Hospice

And now, back to that word—hope. We view hospice as a time to redefine hope. It becomes your desire to create a peaceful, comfortable environment where your loved one can live their final months. As a family, you take charge of each remaining day and celebrate your loved one and their impact on you and the world around them. Mend things that need mending. Reminisce about cherished life events. Spend this precious time together with those who are most important.

Though the exact amount of time differs between studies, it is clear that hospice care contributes to an extended life for those suffering from terminal illnesses. But why is this? Freed from the fatigue, exhaustion, and stress of having to physically travel for treatments to facilities, a sense of calm arrives. Instead of going through a hospital with its myriad environmental challenges that are outside their control, those battling illness can receive care in the comfort and serenity of their own home. Cuddled up with their pets and surrounded by the people they love, patients’ spirits are easily lifted. The hospice team is composed of many professionals dedicated to holistic healing approaches; just as much attention is given to spiritual and emotional needs as medical ones.

Deciding to start hospice care can be a difficult one and is different for each person. Although hospice eligibility requires a life expectancy of six months or less, the emotional and mental readiness of the individual in question is something that another cannot decide. Therefore, it’s appropriate to discuss with your loved one all their care options, including hospice, at any point during a life-limiting illnesillness.

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