Learning that you or a loved one requires hospice care is devastating. There are lots of questions you want to ask, the main one being, “What is hospice care?”
Hospice care is often recommended when a patient’s medical condition has reached its end stage. Therefore, it’s only natural to have questions about the processes, treatments, and what happens next.
Hospice Centers On the Patient
Hospice is a field of medicine that centers on making the patient’s final days as comfortable and peaceful as possible. It provides resources for both the patient and their loved ones as they strive to accept the upcoming transition. The main objective is to ease the patient’s pain and suffering while maintaining a relaxed environment.
There are several chronic illnesses that progress slowly before they reach an end stage. For instance, a person can live for several years with dementia before the symptoms reach a point where they are no longer manageable. Other natural diseases which progress in this manner include cancer, AIDS, and kidney disease.
When it has been determined that a patient’s life expectancy is an estimated six months or less, hospice care helps them to live out their final days with dignity. Quality of life is important at this time. While in hospice care, the focus is no longer on a treatment or a cure, but rather the person who is going through the transition. It provides compassion and comfort to both the patient and their family members.
Choosing Hospice Care
Choosing hospice care is a tough decision. Many patients, family members, and even doctors resist hospice because they feel that there’s still hope. For the patient and family members, obviously, the advanced stages of a terminal illness are hard to accept. The patient’s doctor may wish to keep trying different approaches and medicines. This process, however, puts more focus on the patient’s illness, rather than their remaining days of life.
As a result of this indecision, hospice care is often started too late. The terminal illness and the symptoms that go along with it, such as pain, nausea and other discomforts take a huge toll on the patient and their caregivers.
Hospice does not prolong life, nor does it bring the end closer. It does treat symptoms, using an individually tailored program.The sooner the hospice care is started, the easier it will be for all involved. A hospice team provides care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The pain is managed, keeping the patient comfortable at all times. Should a patient start to see improvement and wish to discontinue hospice care, they are free to do so at any time.
Each Patient Is Unique
As each illness is unique, so is the hospice treatment. Hospice care takes into consideration a person’s beliefs and natural way of life, allowing them to live with as few changes to their everyday routine as possible.
Obviously, symptoms vary according to illness. Physical, nutritional and emotional needs are different for each patient. Hospice care addresses each individual’s needs and provides treatment accordingly. The hospice team consists of trained professionals, which may include doctors, therapists, and social workers.
After deciding on a care plan, the hospice team keeps the family members up to date on the patient’s condition. This may be done via a weekly meeting or phone call. There is always someone available to address any concerns and make changes to the treatment plan, as needed.
Receiving Hospice Care
Once the decision for hospice care has been made, the next step is to decide where the treatment is to take place. There are a number of options available. It is always wise to consult your doctor, social worker or therapist for advice. When considering a facility, ask plenty of questions and request a tour.
It is not uncommon for a patient to choose to receive hospice care in their own homes. Doing so keeps them in their familiar surroundings. This is an obvious advantage for some, however, it does mean having the hospice team coming and going on a regular basis.
For most patients, a hospital or private facility has the best resources when it comes to specialized treatment and targeted programs. There is always a staff of medical professionals on hand at any given time. An assisted living facility also provides interaction with fun daily activities so that the patient never feels alone.
During hospice treatment, the patient will be assessed by the hospice team. Pain medication is provided accordingly to each individual as needed. However, hospice care goes a step beyond and targets the patient’s sensory connections.
Studies show that music therapy has a positive effect on patients with a terminal illness. Listening to soothing music releases natural brain chemicals such as melatonin and epinephrine, which, in turn, improves the patient’s mood and eases stress. These effects last long after the music has ended.
Other sensory treatments can include a relaxing massage or even just relishing a warm, sunny day. An art class can bring out talents that were hidden away. These and many other types of social activities can make these final moments meaningful and enjoyable. They draw the attention away from the inevitable, and center on the patient’s quality of life.
At Lakeside Manor, we believe that hospice care is important for those who are at the final stages of life. Our hospice facility accommodates an outstanding team of San Diego Hospice Care professionals. Their goal is to provide your loved one with caring surroundings and interaction, placing an hourly focus on the patient’s comfort and well-being.
Regardless of age or illness, hospice care is for anyone who is at the terminal stage of life. After a thorough assessment, the San Diego Hospice Care team tailors the treatment plan to each individual. Family members and residents are treated with care and respect. This is a critical time for everyone involved. We welcome your questions regarding hospice care and how our program works.