Hospice or end of life care is a medical specialty that was developed to comfortably guide people through their final moments on earth. The goal of this care is to promote quality of life, comfort, and meeting all of the needs of the person who is near the end of their life. Hospice is about caring for a person, not curing them.
Hospice helps to alleviate suffering by focusing on the emotional and spiritual needs of a person in conjunction with their physical needs. A person typically enters into hospice care when their doctor tells them or their loved one that all treatment options have been exhausted and they are unlikely to be cured.
It can be difficult to determine when it’s time to begin hospice care because it is a big decision with various factors to consider. No two situations are the same and everyone must be on board for the best case scenario.
Here are the main reasons it is time to consider hospice care for you or your loved one.
The patient and their family come to the conclusion on their own.
There is only one person who should truly be in control of the decision to begin hospice and that is the patient if they are able to make the decision. If they decide they no longer want medical intervention and would like to be kept comfortable in their final days then it’s time.
This can often be a difficult decision for someone to make because of added pressure from their loved ones. Whether it’s a spouse, family member or friend the patient may have many voices in their ear that can make this decision much harder. It’s crucial to remember during this time it is very important to be supportive of the person no matter how challenging it may be.
Having an open conversation with your healthcare professionals can help make the decision-making process more clear. Sometimes it comes down to weighing the benefit versus the burden of treatment options for a terminal illness. The care and best interest of the patient is the doctor’s main priority and they will do their best to steer you or your loved one in the right direction.
The Doctor makes the patient aware there are no other treatment options available.
For patients who have a serious illness and are already receiving palliative care, there may come a point in time where the doctor will give them the option of continuing treatment or being made comfortable.
Again in this situation, it comes down to the patient’s choice. It is important to ask as many questions as possible to understand this conclusion and what the next steps are. While it is never easy to accept that it is time for hospice, it is a necessary step for many people to ensure an ending to their life that is compassionate, dignified, and comfortable.
Patients and their loved ones can take comfort in knowing that a team of specialists will be caring for all of their needs. Each person has a right to choose how they would like to spend whatever sacred time they have left while going through the natural end of life process.
Another thing to consider to facilitate this process is using Advance Care Directives to bring peace to loved ones and allow for the opportunity to have open discussions about the wishes of the person as they approach the end of their life.
Many people are uncomfortable and wait until circumstances are dire to make decisions that could have been discussed sooner to ensure equanimity. Although it can be hard to think and talk about death, the earlier the conversation happens, the better it is for everyone involved.
The best course of action is to gather all of the information, talk to professionals, and do what is truly best for the person who is reaching the last stage of their life. Receiving compassionate care for you or your loved ones is an important goal of hospice care.
If you have any questions or would like more information about hospice care, please feel free to contact us today.