Hospice care allows terminally ill patients to receive supportive and palliative care that focuses on improving the individual’s quality of life and comfort during their last months or weeks of life. Hospice care can be given at home, in long-term care facilities, or in hospitals. Hospice care can be either with or without curative intent (the desire to treat the underlying disease). And hospice care can be provided on four different levels.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with an incurable disease, hospice care may be the best option to ensure that you both receive the highest quality of medical care possible as your life comes to an end. Hospice care focuses on caring for your mind and body in addition to treating the symptoms of your disease so that you have time to make important plans say goodbye to loved ones, and experience as much peace and comfort as possible before your death.
What is Hospice Care?
If a terminally ill person is no longer responsive to treatment and their death is imminent, a family will opt for hospice care instead. This alternative form of health care offers symptom management, comfort measures, and pain relief rather than treating or curing an illness like cancer. Hospice patients can still be treated at home or in an inpatient facility; it just means that doctors don’t try to prolong life indefinitely.
All four levels of hospice care are intended to be temporary. Once a patient has received all of the necessary treatments and care, they are allowed to go home and spend time with their loved ones as they prepare for death. This is often referred to as hospice bereavement and can last for several weeks or months, depending on a patient’s specific circumstances.
It doesn’t sound like a good idea at first. If you’re facing your death, why would you want to go home to face it instead of being warm and comfortable surrounded by loving family members or friends? It turns out that for many patients and their families, though, hospice care at home offers many advantages over a more traditional setting. These advantages may be worth considering if you’re trying to decide whether to stay in or leave a hospice facility.
Fortunately, that’s not how it usually works. The ability to live and die in familiar surroundings is one of many advantages to hospice care at home. And while there may be reasons to choose an institutional setting over a more home-like one, there are also good reasons why you should consider hospice care at home as an option.
If you have decided that in-home hospice care is for you, you’ll want to think about your finances. Hiring help and installing necessary equipment, for example, can cost several thousand dollars. If you don’t have enough money on hand or you prefer not to tap into savings and investments just yet, look into financing options that may make these expenses more manageable for you at such a difficult time.
What is Hospice Care Intended For?
Hospice is meant for someone who struggles with a terminal illness who is believed to have 6 months or less to live. There is a lot hospice has to offer, and it’s important to take advantage of these benefits in order for patients to experience a comfortable life until the end.
Continuous Hospice Care
This is where patients are given both medical and emotional support from a team of doctors, nurses, and home health aides. The goals for continuous care are to help patients live as fully as possible within their condition and prepare them for death. This usually requires a daily commitment from family members and caregivers, who need to be well informed about their loved one’s condition to provide proper care.
Patients who choose continuous care often require more extensive medical equipment and medications, so they usually need to be living in a home setting. This is where patients are given both medical and emotional support from a team of doctors, nurses, and home health aides.
During continuous care, patients have to receive at least 8 hours of medical supervision a day, so they can often live on their own. In many cases, someone else in their family or social circle needs constant support and care for them. In many cases, someone else in their family or social circle needs constant support and care for them.
Inpatient Hospice Care
These inpatient programs can be general care, where you would stay with other patients with a wide range of diagnoses, or specialized care, where you are admitted to a hospice center for your specific diagnosis. Most patients who receive inpatient hospice care are generally eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or both.
The main benefit of inpatient hospice care is that it allows patients to be monitored and given medical support for a lengthy amount of time. It can also provide additional comfort and security to patients who may not have an extensive support system in place when they need it most. In addition, these facilities have 24-hour staffing, on-site physicians, skilled nursing staff, and various therapies available to provide added comfort for your final days.
Hospice Respite Care
The goal is to offer temporary relief from everyday responsibilities, including work and household chores. Respite care can be given in various locations, including a hospice patient’s home or assisted living facility. The benefit here is that caregivers can feel more comfortable knowing their loved one is well cared for while taking a break from providing 24/7 care.
Companionship care is also a part of respite care, but it goes further. With companionship care, you can schedule visits from hospice employees who visit your loved one and provide conversation and physical contact, allowing you to take a break knowing your loved one isn’t completely alone.
Long Term Hospice Care
Long-term care usually means nursing home care. Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and other slow-progressing ailments may require long-term care for elderly people.
People who have trouble remembering often feel like they need to “go back” to a time or place they know well. Also, many people in these late stages of dementia don’t have many physical problems. This can make the situation even more difficult because, without long-term care, they may try to cook, drive, or do other dangerous things that they shouldn’t be doing.
Here at Hospice Care Options, we pride ourselves in providing exceptional long-term care for our patients.
Hospice Care Stages of Death
Dying is a very private and personal process. People understand that they have to die at some point, but they do not always know how their death will unfold. The hospice care stages of dying can be confusing when you face them and even more confusing when it is someone you love approaching each stage with their life ebbing away. It can seem like there is no order to these levels of hospice care. The hospice care stages are designed to help patients and their families understand what to expect when dying. Understanding these stages can help you prepare for a peaceful death, knowing that there is no need to struggle with illness or pain.
Hospice Comfort Measures
To improve quality of life, hospice care aims to keep patients “comfortable” by controlling pain, discomfort, and anxiety. Some comfort measures that may be initiated may include:
- Managing pain and symptoms, which could include medicines or other treatments
- Supporting end-of-life with a peaceful, secluded space
- Spiritual support
- Reducing vital sign checks
- Stopping non-comfort medications
- Avoiding needles and blood draws
Palliative Care vs. Hospice
Who Can be Treated?
With palliative care, anyone with a serious illness is a good candidate. However, with hospice care, it is typically for patients who have a serious illness and who have 6 months or less until the end of life.
Where Can I Receive this Care?
Palliative care can be received:
- At home
- In an assisted-living facility
- In a nursing home
- At the hospital
- At a palliative care clinic
Hospice care can be received:
- At home
- At an assisted living facility
- In a nursing home
- At a hospice facility
- In the hospital
How Long Will the Care Be?
In palliative care, the length of your care will depend on the care needed and your insurance plan. As for hospice, the care will last until the end of life, as long as the patient meets the criteria of an illness with a 6 month or less life expectancy.