Deciding when it’s the right time to shift focus from proactive cure efforts to hospice care can be extremely difficult for the family members of someone diagnosed with a life-limiting health condition. It’s important to first understand exactly what hospice is and how hospice care helps. Hospice care provides supportive emotional, social, and spiritual services to both the terminally ill person and their loved ones, usually in the person’s home.
Hospice is generally recommended when:
- The person’s doctor believes there is not a viable treatment option available.
- The person’s life expectancy is six months or less.
- The person is enduring treatment that is neither enhancing their quality of life nor prolonging life, just to avoid addressing the prognosis with loved ones.
- Family members are postponing a conversation about end of life because of a fear that the person will think they have given up.
When receiving hospice care, an individual can continue to remain at home and live life as fully as possible until the last day of life. They are not at home to die; they are at home to live each day to the fullest until they die. Hospice care helps guide the way.
When Is the Best Time to Begin Hospice Care?
All too often, a person is referred to hospice care too late, with only a few days left to live. Since this is typically the time when symptoms are at their worst, support, comfort, and maximum symptom relief are not able to be provided. Not only that, but waiting to refer to hospice until the person’s final days can make it difficult for the person and/or family members to build any kind of rapport and trust with the hospice care team. Early referrals allow hospice care staff time to work with patients and families to better manage the transition to end of life.
Discussions regarding hospice care should begin with the following in mind:
- If you think the person could possibly have a year or less to live, it’s time to begin conversations about hospice care with them.
- When medical tests, procedures and hospitalizations are unable to improve or prolong life, an informed choice can make a difference.
- Family members and those with a terminal illness often struggle to begin conversations about the end of life, which can postpone hospice care. However, discussing the reality in honest and open terms often brings tremendous relief to the person who is dying.
Hospice care is intended to reduce or eliminate pain and other difficult symptoms, rather than providing curative treatment. It focuses on quality of life when a person’s quantity of life is limited, and brings peace of mind and relief. To learn more about how Endeavor In-Home Care can help with compassionate end-of-life care that supports both older adults and their loved ones, contact us at (480) 498-2324 any time. Our services are available throughout Mesa, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Tempe, and the surrounding areas.