Death is inevitable. We will all face it at some point in the future. Despite this fact, it is not a subject that most people feel comfortable talking about. Perhaps this is because it is difficult to permanently say goodbye to a person we love. Maybe it is because of the unknown reality about what comes after death. Whatever the reasons, instead of using the words death or dying, people often refer to it as passing away or resting in peace and try to avoid it. Since death cannot be avoided, this is unhealthy. Instead, it is important to focus on what can be done. This includes supporting quality of life measures rather than focusing on a cure that likely will never come.
In the final days, weeks or months of life, a common practice of many medical professionals is to provide comfort care. This is often true when doctors have exhausted all curative efforts and resources. It is no longer possible to bring the person back from their state of illness or disease. Rather, the focus shifts to keeping them comfortable in this final phase of life’s journey.
For many seniors who are prescribed comfort care, hospice is the delivery service. The purpose of hospice is to offer support in the form of symptom management and pain relief. Spiritual, emotional and family support are also important components in hospice care. Having these services in place helps the individual to enjoy a better quality of life in this final time on Earth. Rather than focusing on finding impossible cures for their ailments, they focus on spending time with family, reminiscing with friends and taking in the sights and sounds of familiar surroundings.
An Under-Utilized Resource
In the United States, the average length of hospice care is 60 days. About 30-percent of recipients die within seven days or less. These services are underutilized. Society’s general lack of knowledge about the purpose and benefits of hospice care as well as our discomfort with death and dying are likely to blame.
What is Hospice Care
So, what exactly is hospice? This approach involves an interdisciplinary team who provide services to the patient and family members. Palliative care is often included under the umbrella of hospice care. This type of care can be offered alongside curative treatments at almost any stage of a person’s illness.
When a person has a life expectancy of six months or less and has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, increased support of hospice care is available. This care is available at home or in an assisted living or nursing home facility. It is fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans once a person is deemed eligible. There is not a limit as to how long a person can receive this type of care. Rather, as long as a doctor states the individual is eligible, hospice care continues.
How Will Entering Hospice Impact My Love One?
Entering hospice care does not restrict your decision-making abilities. However, things like diagnostic testing and repeat hospitalizations are typically discontinued. In most cases, families receiving these services appreciate this. Their desire is to manage pain and symptoms rather than continuing to search for a cure when one simply does not exist. Should a family change their mind about this approach, hospice services are easily discontinued at any time so curative measures might be revisited.
Another advantage of these services is the support offered to families. Caring for an individual with a terminal illness is often difficult and both emotionally and physically taxing. With hospice care in place, new resources are available in the form of respite care offered by professionals or volunteers. This allows family caregivers to take a break and take care of themselves or attend to the needs of other family members.
After the client’s passing, hospice care offers bereavement services to the family. The comfort and support offered by professionals have immeasurable benefits, making the passing easier to accept, cope with and recuperate from.
Death is never easy to face. Sometimes, the best approach is to accept it and make a person’s final time on Earth as enjoyable and comfortable as possible. Hospice serves this purpose and helps clients focus on life. If your loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness and curative efforts no longer provide hope, consider accepting this life-changing care sooner rather than later.
If you have questions, Salus Homecare Orange County is always here to help. Call us anytime to discuss the benefits hospice care offers. We are always available to talk and lend support.