What is Hospice Care?

There are likely many thoughts that come to mind when seeing the word “hospice care.” All emotions associated with this period of time are valid and normal, whether you’re a patient or caregiver. In reality, hospice care is about making one’s passing as comfortable and dignified as possible. Please continue reading to learn more about the importance of hospice care.

The True Definition of Hospice Care

Hospice is specialized medical care for people with an expected life span of 6 months or less. It usually contains a team of combined healthcare professionals that support this person during this time period alongside their loved ones. The goal of hospice is to provide compassionate healthcare while accepting death as the final stage of life. It does not try to treat the condition the person is experiencing, but rather the symptoms associated with it. This helps the person spend their last days with dignity and comfort while being surrounded by loved ones.

When It’s Time for Hospice Care

Many people associate hospice care with a person’s final days of life. While this is partially true, depending on the circumstances, people can receive hospice care for a few months. Hospice is usually considered if there has been a significant increase in pain, weight loss, weakness, shortness of breath, or fatigue. Certain medical conditions may qualify a person for hospice care such as advanced stages of cancer, dementia, or Alzheimer’s. Generally speaking, if a medical team agrees on a life expectancy of 6 months or less, they may qualify for hospice care.

Who Receives Hospice Care?

Circumstances leading to hospice care depend on a number of factors. Hospice care patients usually consist of people with a terminal illness or a life expectancy of fewer than six months. It’s also common for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s to receive hospice care. Even so, age groups as young as children and adolescents can consider similar treatment options. Some other treated conditions include but are not limited to Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, ALS, cirrhosis, and chronic kidney disease.
Where is Hospice Care Provided?
Most hospice services are provided at home with a few exceptions. There may be cases where the person’s symptoms are temporarily monitored at a special inpatient facility. However, the goal would still be to return the patient back home. Otherwise, families may consider housing their loved one in a long-term residential hospice center. Even so, this can come with added medical costs that families need to review prior to making a final decision.

Hospice Care Services

Symptom Care

Otherwise known as palliative care, hospice commonly treats symptoms associated with the person’s condition rather than the disease itself. Even so, it should be mentioned that palliative care can also be offered outside of hospice care. Within hospice care, symptom care attempts to manage stress and pain associated with the patient’s condition. It’s also an essential aspect of patient and caregiver autonomy, as they are important parts of their care plan.

Family Meetings

In hospice care, friends and family commonly meet with their loved one’s medical team to stay informed about their condition. These may be led by a hospice nurse or social worker to teach them about upcoming treatment plans and what to expect. This can also be an important opportunity for loved ones to be open about their feelings and the process of dying. These can be a great way to relieve stress and candidly display emotions in an empathetic environment.

Coordination Care

Coordination care refers to the process of hospice. In other words, the hospice team coordinates their time to provide care and supervision 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. This can include a variety of healthcare professionals including doctors, inpatient facility staff, pharmacists, and other community professionals. If a problem were to arise, there should always be someone available to help, day or night.

Respite Care

Respite care is commonly offered to caregivers with loved ones receiving hospice at home. This essentially means that a healthcare professional stays with the patient while their caregivers take a break. Respite care can be provided for up to 5 days for a planned period of time. Their loved one will be temporarily cared for at an inpatient facility while their caregivers go for a small vacation or relaxation period.

Bereavement Care

Bereavement care is provided to surviving friends and family after their loved one has passed. The hospice team will work with the patient’s loved one to coordinate a mental health professional, trained volunteer, or spiritual mentor to guide them through the grieving process. The hospice team can refer caregivers and loved ones to these necessary resources if need be.
Bereavement care can be provided to caregivers for up to a year after their loved one’s passing.

Are you or a loved one transitioning to hospice care? Our compassionate medical professionals at Prestige understand how difficult this process can be. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about hospice care. We’re happy to answer your questions!

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