Knowing your loved one is living on borrowed time can be traumatizing. Getting the news that your loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness that will take their life in a few months or, if lucky, a few years can be tough to process.
Hospice care has been initiated for all kinds of people because they deserve to spend their last days comfortably and as peacefully as possible. Hospice care, a particular type of health care, focuses on attending to the emotional needs of the patients on the death bed, including pain relief and nursing care.
Hospice care facilities have professionals trained to attend to the needs of the patients. Their main aim is to enhance the quality of life of the ill. The Hospice benefit is a blessing for all the sick and terminally ill people. It is a source of relief in tough times not only for the patient but also for their family.
Let’s further discuss the services, benefits, and criteria of Hospice Care in this read!
What Does it Mean When a Person is Put on Hospice?
When a person is diagnosed with a condition with few possibilities of being cured, it is the right time to put them on hospice. For example, suppose a person with advanced cancer only has a few months to live. In that case, they can be admitted to a hospice care facility. Anyone with a life expectancy of six months or fewer can be put on hospice care.
However, the thought of your loved ones passing away in a few months can be distressing. This may influence your decision to put them on hospice care because it will reflect that you have lost hope and there’s no way out. The patient and their family members should consult with their doctor to determine the right time to begin.
After all, you want your loved ones to spend the time that remains in peace and with the proper care that hospice provides. Once you’ve decided on hospice care, the concerned department will devise a plan to offer you the care your loved one needs. A routine check-up will be performed, and one of the members will be in contact through call.
The team includes the doctor and nurses who will help your loved one clean, change clothes, and bathe. Physical therapy, medical equipment, and meditation are other services they offer.
Does Hospice Care Mean Death?
People who qualify for Hospice care have already been diagnosed with some incurable disease. The hospice has no resources for treating the patients’ illnesses; instead, the care helps relieve the patients’ pain. The main aim of Hospice care is to treat the symptoms and provide comfort to the patient.
People opting for Hospice care get a chance to redefine the term hope. Hospice gives people the time to mend their relationships. Many people return to God and hope to do the right things one last time.
So, hospice is not about giving up on living. Instead, it is about living life to the fullest during the last few days or months. Even though the people qualified for hospice have less than six months, hospice is not to remind them about that. Instead, Hospice care helps divert their minds and help them focus on meaningful things that could comfort them. Hospice is all about enhancing the quality of life.
What Kind of Illnesses Do Patients in a Hospice Have?
Hospice is a place for people with incurable diseases. It’s where terminally ill people are taken care of in their last stages of life. They are provided with physical, emotional, and spiritual support. However, there’s a misconception that only end-stage cancer patients can be enrolled in hospice. That’s incorrect.
Anyone terminally ill and diagnosed with an illness that leaves them with limited time can benefit from Hospice care. So, terminal patients with heart diseases, lung diseases, AIDS, neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s, etc., can enroll in hospice.
Widely seen, the patients admitted in hospice are diagnosed with cancer, heart and lung disease, and Dementia. As of 2014, Cancer patients rank highest with 36.6% of the total Hospice patients in the US. It is followed by Dementia patients being the second-highest to account for 14.8% of the total Hospice patients.
What are the Four Types of Hospice Care?
Your hospice team will perform tests to get insights into which type of hospice care will be right for you. They will make sure that your loved one receives the care they deserve. The idea behind each type of hospice care is to understand the patient’s needs and offer them expert medical assistance and support throughout the journey.
- Routine Care. You can apply for regular care once you’ve decided to accept hospice care. It is possible to receive it in the comfort of your own home. Regardless of your residence, the service will be provided with the patient’s needs in mind.
This is considered the most basic type of hospice care. The hospice care team will offer pain management, physical therapy, volunteer visits, and assistance with your daily tasks. They will also provide emotional support to both the patient and their family.
- Continuous Care. When the level of pain increases, so does the care to manage it. Ongoing Hospice Care is required if the patient is in a severe condition. A nurse will be assigned to your home to assess the patient’s condition for a particular time. The medical crisis can be a patient experiencing significant pain and breathing difficulties. Continuous home care allows you to stay with your family and avoid hospitalization in the event of an emergency.
- Inpatient Care. If a patient’s condition worsens and can no longer be managed at home, it becomes necessary to get them admitted. To stabilize the symptoms, inpatient hospice care is provided by the hospice team. The objective of this level of care is to ensure that you may return home as soon as possible, where you can continue receiving regular care with the support of your family. On the other hand, some patients want to spend their last days at an inpatient hospice care center with their families. If that’s the case with your loved one, inpatient hospice care can make it possible.
- Respite Care. Inpatient hospice centers provide a respite care facility. During this brief stay, you can ensure that your loved one is receiving the best possible care. This might end the need to hire a caregiver at home. Keep in mind that this service is usually offered for a shorter period.
How Long Does a Hospice Care Patient Live?
Since the establishment of the Hospice benefit in 1982, many people have availed of the service to ease their pain and sorrow. The time duration spent by people in hospice differs significantly from person to person.
Hospice does have a positive effect on the patient’s condition. According to a research report from Trella Health, it is was found that the average length of the Hospice patient increased from 74.5 days which was recorded in 2017, to 77.9 days in the year 2018.
Moreover, about California’s Department of aging, the average life expectancy of a Hospice patient is 6 months, or sometimes even lesser. This is because the primary purpose of Hospice care is not to treat the patient’s illness but to help them cope with it and provide comfort and relief.
Well, this doesn’t mean the patient has to be only admitted if they have less than 6 months to live. The sooner one gets into hospice, the better chances one has of living in a comfortable environment. Suppose someone in hospice survives for more than 6 months. In that case, they are either discharged or eligible for the Hospice enrollment to be extended.
What are the Signs of Someone Dying in Hospice?
Imagine saying goodbye to your loved one who will no longer be in your life. It breaks us just thinking about it.
Keeping them in a hospice care facility might make their final days a bit less traumatic as they’ll receive emotional support from trained professionals. Not only that, but you’ll also gain the mental support and strength to deal with the situation more effectively.
We’ll go through a few symptoms that indicate your loved one is approaching the end of their life.
- Breathing problems are the most common signs that your loved one doesn’t have much time to live. They became persistent in the last few days. However, the hospice care team can provide instant relief through oxygen masks, medication, etc.
- When a doctor tells you that you only have a few days to live, you may get stressed. This can lead to difficulty breathing and sleeping, other common symptoms.
- You can notice a shift in their eating and sleeping patterns. Their appetite will decline, they’ll sleep more, and they’ll talk very little as they might be on medication. It’s natural for a body dying from terminal illness to refuse food. It differs from person to person; some patients get to experience an instant decline in their eating habits. The hospice care team makes sure that your loved ones are fed well.
- A long list of medicines can make your loved one weak and lead to nausea and dizziness. They may start vomiting, affecting their appetite.
- Incontinence is a condition in which you lose control over your urine and bowel motions. This is due to the body’s frailty and lack of mobility. This can make urinating and passing bowels extremely painful.
- A decline in blood pressure and blood flow to body parts is another sign. Their body may become colder and turn purple or yellow.
- They may experience some sensory changes like hallucinating.
- You may find them keeping their distance from you. But that can’t be said for sure because some patients spend their entire time with their families and close friends.
Hospice care aims to offer comfort and care to the patients who are on their death beds. Hospice care makes sure the patient’s last days are full of good memories and not regrets.
The family members put their maximum efforts into safeguarding their dying patient. It is pertinent to mention that we all know a human being is mortal, but since we do not know fate, we struggle to save them and do as much as we can to make their lives easier.
Hospice care makes it possible for you to offer your loved ones the care they need in their last few days. As discussed earlier, there are four levels of hospice care, including routine care, continuous care, inpatient care, and respite care. The four levels of hospice care are defined by Medicare to meet the varying needs of patients.
The appropriate level of hospice care can only be determined by a healthcare professional. An extensive assessment will be performed to determine which level of hospice care is best for your loved one.
We understand that it’s not easy to accept the fact that your loved one will leave your side in some time. However, to make their end-of-life journey as smooth and peaceful as possible, it’s best to get them admitted to a hospice care facility.
To prevent your loved ones from suffering during their final days, the AtHome Healthcare Team, composed of medical professionals who are trained and empathetic, is here to help. Learn more about your options with AtHome Healthcare Team.