If you are caring for a loved one with a terminal illness you know it’s one of the most rewarding and difficult challenges in life. Most caregivers want to keep their loved one at home and away from the hospital. And many people think that calling in help from hospice care means giving up hope or going to a facility to die. The fact is, hospice care is a unique care system that allows a more comfortable and normal life during advanced and incurable illness. Hospice care can be from home or a specialized facility and it takes the burden of being a full-time caregiver from you and allows you to focus on providing love and emotional support.
The American Cancer Society describes the hospice care philosophy as accepting death as the final stage of life and affirming life without trying to either postpone or hurry the end. Whether it is palliative care, hospice care in home or hospice care in a specialized facility, hospice care focuses on the quality of life. A team of specialized professionals will provide compassionate treatment for pain and symptom management so your loved one spends their final days in dignity and comfort.
Hospice care is also family centered. Both the patient and their loved ones are a part of the care plan. As a caregiver, you have had to shoulder the responsibility of all the care. As your loved one’s care becomes more specialized, your care can now be focused on the emotional needs of your loved one and yourself.
So how do you know when it’s time to begin hospice care? Some things to look for are:
- Pain that is hard to control
- Current treatments or therapy not effective
- Problems with breathing
- Multiple hospital visits/stays in recent months
- Not sleeping at night from pain, breathing problems or other issues, or excessive sleeping during the day
- Infections or non-healing wounds
- Unexpected weight loss or loss of appetite
- Frequent medication changes
- Swelling of the ankles or legs, even with the feet up
- Weakness or a loss of interest during activities
- Loss of speech
If you recognize any of these symptoms, it may be time to start hospice care. It’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.