Having a loved one on hospice services is a difficult decision, especially if you’ve never navigated this type of care before. But if there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s death. Even though people are living longer thanks to modern medicine, the death rate remains at a steady 100%. As difficult as these conversations are to have, death is a normal part of life.
If you have a loved one going into hospice care, you probably have a lot of questions. That’s okay – the hospice team wants you to be informed! To help you prepare, here are three important things to know about hospice patients.
1. Hospice patients are kept as comfortable as possible using medication and alternative therapies.
When a patient begins hospice, curative or aggressive treatments for their illness are stopped. But that doesn’t mean that all medications stop. In fact, medication can be a vital part of hospice care, helping to relieve end-of-life symptoms like pain, nausea, shortness of breath, and anxiety.
In addition to medication, a patient can also receive alternative therapies to keep them comfortable, such as massage therapy, meditation, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques. The hospice team will also create a quiet and comforting environment with dim lighting, soft music (if helpful), and gentle touches.
The most important thing to know is that hospice patients are kept as comfortable as they possibly can. Hospice doctors and nurses know which cues to look for and the different therapies and medications available for treating end-of-life symptoms.
2. Receiving hospice care may increase the life expectancy of a hospice patient.
Loved ones are sometimes hesitant to start hospice because they view it as ‘giving up’, but this is not the case at all. As a matter of fact, receiving at least one day of hospice care may increase life expectancy by up to three months!
Each person is different, so it’s hard to say how long your loved one will live on hospice. But it’s important to know that hospice patients tend to live longer and better than patients who don’t receive this care. This is crucial information to have, as many people wait until very close to death to enroll in hospice services and utilize the benefits.
By starting hospice sooner, a patient can improve their symptoms and even extend their life. If they live longer than six months, they can renew hospice care for another six months.
3. Hospice patients can tailor their end-of-life services to reflect their spiritual beliefs.
Religious or spiritual beliefs can help patients and their families accept life and death by seeing the bigger picture. Fortunately, most religions look favorably on hospice care. A hospice patient can let their team know of their religious or spiritual beliefs, and these will be incorporated into their care plan.
For example, some hospice patients ask their care team to sing, pray and read the Scriptures. There are even certain programs, such as Jewish hospice, that specifically cater to patients of the Jewish faith. Even if hospice patient is not religious or spiritual, they can still receive spiritual care to regain a sense of purpose and reach healing before death.
Learning that a loved one needs hospice can bring on many emotions, but it’s important to know that this type of care is meant to help patients live better and more comfortably. To learn more about the hospice programs through VNA Health Group, contact our team today.