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Does Hospice Mean the End of Life for Your Loved One?

A smiling caregiver holding the hand of a senior patient.

If you’re like other people, the first thing you’d probably imagine after hearing the term hospice is terminally ill patients with a few weeks to live. Most associate it with dying, but it’s only a myth because not everyone who enrolls in this type of care ends up passing away.

Hospice is about providing compassionate care at every moment and step of a challenging health situation. Learn the ABCs of hospice care, its benefits, and how to access it.

Understanding Hospice Care

Traditionally, hospice care is provided to patients with serious illness to alleviate their pain and give as much comfort from their health conditions before their end of life. So, you may think of it as care offered to people with six months to live or less.

However, not all hospice cases lead to passing. Surprisingly, the hospice care team’s meticulous and highest quality of care during this critical moment can sometimes improve the health of a loved one and even treat their condition.

Palliative care is often mistaken as hospice but the two are different. This type of care is given to people with terminal illnesses but without prognosis. Its main goal is to treat the patient and provide comfort, whereas with hospice, the goal is to alleviate suffering and make the last days of a patient as painless as possible.

Debunking Myths About Hospice

A caregiver’s hand on the patient’s shoulder.

Here are the common misconceptions people have about hospice care.

1. Hospice is for people who have let go of life

Most people think that hospice is for those who have given up on living, but it’s far from the truth. While typical patients have critical illnesses, most wish to get their health back to be with their loved ones.

2. Hospice is for people with limited weeks to live

Care providers recommend it for people with a diagnosis that limits their life expectancy. For instance, if cancer has reached stage 4 and the doctor predicts the patient will have less than six months to live based on the trajectory of the disease. However, individual cases can vary. Some people may respond well to the treatment, get well, and go on to live for a few years more.

3. Hospice means giving up control over your care

Many think when a loved one enters hospice, they relinquish their right to make care decisions — but it’s not true. Some terminally ill patients may not be mentally capable enough to decide about the treatment option but they can request or refuse care services. For instance, they can leave hospice or choose to receive it at home instead of a facility.

Does hospice mean the end of life? No. Some people improve their health and live for a few more years. The key for this to happen is to choose a reliable hospice care partner that has access to caregivers and professionals who specialize in giving care to people with severe health conditions.

You shouldn’t look at hospice as the end of life. Instead, view it as a care method to increase the patient’s quality of life through the highest level of care.

The Role of the Hospice Care Team

The hospice care team oversees many care responsibilities, from assisting with activities of daily living to giving pain relief medications. It’s made up of the following care professionals.

  • Registered nurse case managers: They do the basic care tasks, provide nursing care, monitor the patient’s physical health, and communicate with the physician.
  • Hospice physician or medical doctor: They’re responsible for providing comfort, easing the pain of physical symptoms through medications, and managing the conditions.
  • Hospice social worker: They help you connect with private care agencies and government resources and assist with funeral planning.
  • Hospice aide: They provide care for activities of daily living, such as feeding and providing companionship care.
  • Chaplain: They provide spiritual guidance to the patient and the family, ensuring your loved one receives peace and emotional healing.
  • Volunteers: They support the hospice aide in offering companionship care and respite.
  • Therapist: Complementary therapy that supports mental health, like Reiki, may be provided to the patient if they request it.
  • Bereavement coordinator: After your loved one has passed away, they provide grief support and ensure the entire family can cope with the tragedy.

Each person who is part of the hospice team performs a specific role that guarantees the family and the patient receive all-encompassing care and support. They’ll be with you every step of the difficult journey.

Benefits of Hospice Care

A nurse checking the vitals of a senior patient.

Offers personalized care and support

Hospice is like personalized home care except that it’s better and offers the highest level of care and support. Caregivers deliver patient-centered support and care services based on your loved one’s specific demands. There’s no room for a one-size-fits-all approach in hospice care.

Provides care in a familiar environment

Patients often prefer to receive care in their homes because it’s familiar. For those recommended to stay at a nursing home or hospital, caregivers make up by nurturing a quiet and zen-like environment that mimics the familiarity of home. This way, the atmosphere and space can reduce stress and simultaneously promote healing.

Gives your loved one a sense of dignity

If the situation turns worse, your loved one can pass away with dignity. They’re not hooked up to loud medical machines or undergo invasive procedures that they don’t like just to prolong their life.

Accessing Hospice Care

Unlike standard home care, your loved one needs to be qualified to enter hospice. The doctors will determine whether it’s the right decision to endorse someone to a higher level of care.

Your loved one may qualify for hospice care if:

  • They have a life-limiting condition that has gotten worse over the last four to six months.
  • They have a serious, life-limiting disease and have six months of less to live according to the care provider.
  • They have made a decision to stop all medical methods to cure and treat the disease.
  • Their health declines significantly to the point they depend on others for basic activities of daily living, like feeding themselves.

The transition from regular care to hospice happens promptly after the prognosis. When doctors confirm that curative treatments may no longer work, they may recommend you move to hospice care to refocus the attention and efforts on quality of life and reducing the painful symptoms your loved one experiences. The goal is to make their remaining weeks as comfortable as possible.

Hospice care is covered in Medicare Part A or hospital insurance if your loved one meets the following criteria:

Hospice care costs nothing but a copayment of up to $5 is required for pain relievers and drugs for symptom management. If your loved one has private insurance, contact the company to know the requirements for hospice services.

Amy’s Eden Senior Care Is Your Partner for Hospice Care

A male caregiver doing a regular home checkup on a senior patient.

Amy’s Eden Senior Care can help your loved one during the most difficult times. Entering hospice care is a major care decision that affects all family members and you need every care and support to get through this.

Amy’s Eden Senior Care offers serene and quiet assisted living homes that promotes healing and peace of mind. We have compassionate caregivers to provide high-quality hospice care in an environment they feel familiar and comfortable.

To know what it feels like living in our homes, schedule a virtual tour to see the stunning outdoor areas and well-decorated interior. Talk to us today to know how we can improve your loved one’s quality of life.

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