Your Ultimate Guide to What is Hospice and Hospice Care Options

Hospice care options

Almost half of all deaths in the U.S. take place under the care of a hospice program. Hospice nurses have been compared to angels on more than on occasion. After all, it’s a difficult job helping loved ones greet their next great journey pain-free and with dignity.

Are you trying to decide if hospice care is right for your loved one? There are a variety of hospice care options out there that might be just what they need.

Read on to learn more about what exactly hospice is and explore all your options so you can make the right call for your loved one.

What Is Hospice?

Many people think that hospice is a specific care center where a terminally ill patient goes to receive end-of-life care. In reality, hospice isn’t a place. It’s a type of care.

Hospice is the care that a terminally ill person receives when they’ve decided to stop curative care. Instead, their¬†hospice care plan focuses on managing symptoms of the illness and relieving pain to make their last few months in this life as wonderful as possible.

Not only does hospice care focus on physical aspects, but it also focuses on the emotional aspects of the last chapter in a person’s life. Emotional and spiritual care is a cornerstone of hospice care, as everyone wants to ease into their next great journey without fear and with dignity.

If your loved one is suffering and curative care is no longer working, it might be time to call for hospice care. Hospice teams are expertly trained in focusing on pain relief, comfort, spiritual support, and maintaining a great quality of life during this time. That’s why hospice care is usually the best option over keeping your loved one in the care of those who specialize in curative care.

When is Hospice Recommended?

Hospice is usually recommended for those:

  • Whose life expectancy has been estimated at six months or less by a physician,
  • Whose curative medical treatments have stopped making a difference in their disease, or
  • Whom physicians have determined that their treatments definitely won’t cure the disease and, in that case, will only extend suffering

If the burden of symptoms of a disease has outweighed the benefits of curative care, it might be time for hospice care. Patients are at liberty to make this call for themselves. However, only those who doctors have estimated have six months or less to live are eligible for hospice care.

Signs It Might be Time for Hospice

Are you struggling to determine if it’s time for hospice care for your loved one? First of all, talk to your loved one about whether or not they feel their symptoms outweigh the benefits of their curative care. You should also talk to their physician about their estimated life expectancy.

It might be time for hospice care if your loved one has:

  • Consistent E.R. trips
  • Seemingly constant infections
  • A sharp drop in physical function capabilities or weight
  • Oxygen dependence

Once the physician determines your loved one probably has six months or less to live, they’ll refer you to a center that specializes in hospice or palliative care.

Coping With the Decision for Hospice

Choosing to place a loved one under hospice care does not mean you’ve given up on them. In reality, it’s quite the opposite.

It’s hard to come to terms with death, but we all must face it. By getting hospice care for your loved one, you’re choosing to honor their lives by helping them write the best last chapter they can.

Hospice is about allowing your loved one to feel peaceful and pain-free during their final walk of life on earth. Acceptance is difficult, but hospice caretakers are trained to help both your loved one and you face it as proudly as possible.

Your Hospice Care Options

First of all, again, hospice isn’t a place. There is no one specific place people with terminal diseases go to receive hospice care.

Instead, patients can receive care in a slew of different places. Some patients receive hospice care in the comfort of their own home.

If your loved ones’ symptoms are manageable, this is definitely one of the best options. Those in their final chapter of life usually prefer to spend it at home, among their things and their loved ones.

Otherwise, patients can receive hospice care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or another type of around-the-clock skilled nursing care facility.

Levels of Care

After the facility is decided upon, your loved one’s physician and you will determine the level of care needed. Each disease and patient is very different, which means that they all require specific care plans tailored to suit the needs of each individual. Hospice certainly is not a one size fits all sort of care.

The various levels of care work to take care of the varying needs of hospice patients and their families. While physicians will tailor your care plan to your loved one specifically, Medicare categorizes the levels of care in four categories:

  • Home hospice care
  • 24-hour inpatient care for patients whose symptoms can’t be comfortably alleviated at home
  • Continuous care, which includes alleviation of severe symptoms at home only when necessary
  • Respite care, which is temporary inpatient care while the home caregiver is away for any extenuating circumstance

Hospice care does a lot more than just these medical terms seem to suggest, though. They also provide spiritual support, including providing communication with pastors and priests if need be. Some programs also incorporate art and music, and all programs will provide strong emotional support for your loved one and your family.

Most will also provide bereavement support after death, too. Hospice caretakers realize that the bond they create with you during this difficult time is special, and many families rely on their loved ones’ hospice caretakers during the early stages of grieving.

Your Decision

Deciding to seek hospice care options isn’t easy, but if made at the right time, it can make the end of your loved one’s life as easy as possible. Sometimes, those with serious illnesses crave this sort of peace after a long and hard battle.

If you have hospice questions or any other questions about your loved one’s care, get in touch with us. We’re always here to talk about how we can help you!

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