As a loved one nears the end of life, and the decision is made that curative treatments are no longer the best course of action, many choose hospice care. This is an approach that centers on addressing physical, emotional and spiritual needs. It empowers a person to spend their final days, weeks or months away from the sterile hospital environment. Rather, they remain closer to family and surrounded by things that bring them comfort.

How Hospice Provides Comfort

Hospice care at home, like that provided by Salus Homecare San Diego, helps clients to find comfort,  retain independence and enjoy a higher quality of life. From massage to warm compresses, appropriate exercise or even music and art, clients do things that interest them and often relieve pain in the process. An interesting side effect of this is that many of these activities help family caregivers too. An excellent example is found when looking at yoga.

Yoga and Advanced Lung Cancer

Advanced lung cancer patients often find that yoga helps increase physical stamina, improve mental health and extend their ability to retain independence with activities of daily living. Breathing exercises, meditation and physical postures also have profound benefits for family caregivers who are experiencing stress, anxiety or insomnia.

Preliminary Research

A small study at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston recently followed 26 clients and their family caregivers. Throughout the study, participants took part in an average of 12 yoga sessions. The sessions incorporated partner exercises as well as chest opening poses and deep breathing. At the conclusion of the study, the clients had improved scores on a six-minute walking test versus a control  group. Their loved ones who participated also reported less fatigue and more stamina while working.

While the study was small, it supports other past research findings. Those showed the benefits of exercise throughout chemotherapy and radiation and even after curative approaches have proven unsuccessful. In hospice care, many patients benefit physically and mentally from activity that is appropriate for their abilities. As hospice is a program focused on supporting the entire family unit, recognizing the ways in which activity helps family caregivers is worth noting too.

The study’s lead author Kathrin Milbury and her colleagues presented their findings at the recent Palliative and Supportive Care Oncology Symposium in San Diego. As the research is not published in a peer-reviewed journal at this time, it is considered preliminary. Still excercise like yoga is worth considering when developing hospice care plans for advanced lung cancer patients.

The study authors said they do not claim that yoga is better for advanced lung cancer patients than other exercise. It is easily modified, however, and people of all ages can participate in a yoga practice.

Add Exercise to Your Care Plan

Whether your loved one chooses hospice care or not at the end stage of life, discuss incorporating some activity into the care plan with their doctor. As a family caregiver, consider making activity a part of your daily routine as well. When possible, try to perform activities with your loved one. This is an excellent opportunity for bonding, conversation and creating memories. As a side effect, you are also likely to see benefits in your own life – a cleared state of mind, less anxiety, better sleep and better focus to prepare for what lies ahead.

If you or a loved one are faced with a life-limiting diagnosis, explore the benefits hospice care can offer. We are always here to help. Call Salus Homecare San Diego anytime for a complimentary consultation or to ask any questions.

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