When Hospice May Help You and Your Family
When a loved one is notably declining - in strength, alertness, activity, appetite, or weight - and/or their disease is worsening to "late stage," "advanced stage," or "end stage," hospice medical support at home may become a viable option. Hospice experts educate and support caregivers who are trying their best to keep their loved one as comfortable as possible at home, especially if their loved one says going to the hospital, emergency room, and clinic are no longer helping them achieve a better quality of life. If visits to these places are more burdensome than helpful and they want to focus on maximizing quality of life outside of clinic and the hospital, the hospice team are the medical experts to help them achieve these goals.
A patient is medically eligible to receive hospice support if the hospice team can justify on paper that on average the patient has a prognosis of months. Keep in mind that an individual could live much shorter or much longer than the average written on paper. Hospice is a level of medical assistance - such as ICU level, hospital level, or hospice level - that may be the best level of care for a patient (and their family) depending on their health condition and wishes at the time.
Hospice is not a place to live or a place to die. Hospice is a medical program - including staff, medications, equipment, and supplies geared towards relieving symptoms and maintaining comfort - that is delivered to wherever one is living at the time. Local hospice agencies can be contacted by anyone - the patient, family member, or physician. If you feel you want to hear how a hospice team could best support you or your family with your goals of comfort while living with an "end stage" disease or severely declining health, consider contacting several to hear what they have to offer and to determine which may be the best fit for you and your family.
At Real Palliative Care, I strive to provide practical and easy to understand guidance to patients and family members as they attempt to make the "right" decisions for themselves during some of the most vulnerable moments of their lives. I hope I translate knowledge from my training, patient interactions, and lessons learned as a palliative care physician into useful insights and helpful tips for you and your family.
To learn more specifics about what hospice support entails, consider starting with Post 2: Five Major Ways Palliative Care Differs from Hospice.
To get clarification on common misconceptions about hospice that may prevent someone from considering hospice as a potential medical path, read Post 56: Debunking Common Myths about Hospice - Part 1 of 2 and Post 57: Debunking Common Myths about Hospice - Part 2 of 2.
To read specific example scenarios of when one may consider hospice support, read Post 23: When to Consider Hospice Support - Example #1, Post 25: When to Consider Hospice Support - Example #2, and Post 27: When to Consider Hospice Support - Example #3.