Hospice: When Should You Seriously Start Thinking About It?

Hospice: When Should You Seriously Start Thinking About It? : Terminally ill patients and their families never look forward to making decisions about end-of-life care. However, the subject can’t be avoided, and it’s better to discuss it openly than it is to avoid difficult conversations at the expense of the patient’s comfort. Decisions regarding when to seriously consider hospice care fall into this category.

Have the Conversation Before It’s Necessary

As a general rule, it’s best to start discussing hospice care well before the patient needs it. Many families bring the subject up with the patient’s healthcare team or start looking for a hospice house nearby soon after a terminal diagnosis so that they can begin to plan. The sooner the planning process begins, the better-prepared everyone will be when it’s time to enlist professional hospice care workers’ help.

Who Is Eligible for Hospice Care?

Because hospice is considered a form of end-of-life care, there are some restrictions governing eligibility. The program is intended only for patients with terminal illnesses that limit their life expectancies to six months or less and make it difficult to maintain a pain-free, comfortable, and dignified lifestyle.

Some people assume that hospice care is only for the elderly, but thankfully, that’s not true. There is no specific age limit. The program is available to patients of all ages and their families as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.

Understanding the Primary Goals of Hospice Care

Hospice care is a specialized type of palliative care, a form of medical care whose primary focus is the management of symptoms and the improvement of the patient’s quality of life. Palliative care, more generally, is available to any patient who is suffering from a severe illness and needs relief. It is often combined with aggressive treatment options for the patients’ life-limiting illnesses.

Hospice care is only for those who are approaching the end of their lives. Patients entering hospice care can still receive some forms of medical care, but they must commit to the cessation of curative treatment. This is a very serious decision that patients should make with the help of their physicians and families.

How Hospice Care Can Help

Hospice care can provide relief not just for terminally ill patients but also for their families. The hospice team coordinates all of the patient’s care needs, allowing family caregivers and other loved ones to focus on spending quality time with the person during their final days, weeks, or months of life.

The type of care provided to a patient and their family varies based on the situation. Valley Oaks Hospice team generally consist of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, social workers, volunteers, and members of the clergy, each of whom has a different role to play. The care team provides:

  • Pain and symptom management
  • Assistance with the activities of daily living
  • Counseling to address emotional needs
  • Discussions with clergy members to address spiritual needs
  • Companionship for patients
  • Support for caregivers
  • Bereavement counseling following the patient’s passing
  • Help with insurance and funeral paperwork

Contacting a Hospice Care Provider

When a patient is ready to consider hospice care, the first step is to reach out to the patient’s physician for a referral. From there, the patient or their family can begin to investigate local options for hospice care. Once the patient is enrolled, their care team can handle the rest.



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Hospice: When Should You Seriously Start Thinking About It?

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