Choosing the Best Hospice Care for a Loved One

Mar 30, 2016

Choosing the Best Hospice Care for a Loved One

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Differentiating between and understanding the various types of healthcare programs seniors may be involved with in their old age can be confusing, especially if the senior has been in and out of different medical facilities for years. Despite this, it’s crucial that seniors and their families understand hospice care.

Simply put, hospice care is specialized care that is meant to provide comfort and support the quality of life of an individual during the advanced stages of an illness. It is important that patients and family members of patients know and understand that hospice care does not focus on curing the individual’s illness. Hospice care views death as an inevitable and natural part of life.

Hospice care facilities provide a place for ill or elderly individuals and their families to spend time together peacefully and without worry toward the end of the individual’s life.

4 Common Myths about Hospice Care

Due to hospice care’s relation with the end of life and dying, it’s not uncommon to hear false rumors or myths. Here are a few of the most common hospice care myths, and the truth behind them.

1. Hospice care means giving up.

Hospice care is a realistic approach to advanced-stage illnesses. Hospice care believes that death is natural and that it is better to make an individual comfortable and increase their quality of life, rather than continuing them on harsh treatments that are unlikely to work.

2. Hospice care is only for people that will die soon.

This isn’t exactly true. Hospice care is typically geared toward people that have been diagnosed with 12 or fewer months to live. Despite this, many people prefer to partake in hospice care as early as possible to ensure the highest quality of end of life care.

3. Hospice care is only for the individual that is ill.

While hospice care does focus on the needs of the patient, it’s a holistic approach to the end of life process. This means that hospice care provides support for the family and loved one’s of the patient as well.

4. Hospice care is a place.

While there are hospice care facilities or hospice care sections of medical facilities, most hospice care takes place at the patient’s home.

Hospice care can seem complex, and deciding what type of hospice care is best suited for a patient depends on the individual’s need toward the end of their life.

How to Choose the Right Hospice Care

Choosing the right hospice care can be tricky, but there are determining factors that can help a patient’s family determine what is best suited for them. Here are some of the factors that must be considered when matching a patient with a hospice care program:

  • Is the patient in a lot of pain?
  • Can pain be managed at home?
  • Does the patient need any medication that needs to be administered by a professional?
  • Does the patient need end of life counseling?
  • Does the family need support or counseling?
  • Does the patient prefer to be at home or in a facility?

Upon asking the patient and/or family these things, it’s time to ask the hospice care program questions. Some of the questions to be asked include:

  • If it is a facility, are there physicians and/or registered nurses on staff 24 hours a day?
  • If hospice care will be visiting the home, how many visits a week will they make?
  • Does the hospice guarantee to be with the individual when they pass on?
  • What is the hospice care’s response time?
  • Does the hospice care program take Medicare or similar insurance policies?
  • If hospice care takes place at home, and symptoms become unmanageable, is there an inpatient ward for the patient?

As one can imagine, choosing hospice care is not only a complicated process but also a sensitive one. Make sure that both patient and family members are involved in the process to ensure the needs of the patient are met in their end of life care.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Am I still eligible for hospice if I'm already in a nursing home or long-term care facility?

One of the major benefits of hospice care is that you are able to receive it whether you are at home, a hospital, a long-term care facility or nursing home. You can choose where you would like to receive your hospice care.

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Are there any signs that the end may be near for hospice patients?

There are some common signs that death is near and they include:

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness/Sleepiness
  • Mental confusion
  • Constipation or incontinence
  • Nausea
  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Parts of the body becoming cool to the touch or darker or blue in color

It is important to remember that these signs alone do not mean that someone is dying. However, for seniors that are in hospice or declining health and experience many of these symptoms, it could suggest that they are nearing the end of their life.

See All Answers »

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