There is some fear, especially among those unfamiliar with hospice care, that entering hospice means “giving up” on a loved one.
Medical professionals and anyone who has been through the hospice experience will tell you that the opposite is true. Above and Beyond Home Health Care will affirm this as well: hospice is an opportunity for many people to provide extra attention toward someone’s physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual well-being.
Hospice programs are designed to provide “Quality of Life,” an industry term for efforts to make someone’s remaining time as comfortable and as pain-free as possible, whether it’s six months, six days, or anywhere in between.
This can mean patients don’t need to stay in a hospital, go to the doctor regularly or have any more tests or experiments performed on them. They don’t have to follow doctor’s orders on what they eat or drink. All of these freedoms could be well-received, especially if someone may have gone through an extended period of painful medical treatments, surgeries, hospital stays and visits to all sorts of specialists.
If the patient is feeling pain, they are encouraged to work with their provider to find the right balance of medication to make things hurt less but still help them stay alert rather than out of it.
Some patients use the opportunity that hospice presents to spend extra time in their own home with friends and family members, or in some cases, re-connect with estranged people from their past. For some, these experiences and moments can be therapeutic; especially if there have been past dynamics that are able to be resolved. For others, it can just be wonderful to be surrounded by kind, caring people who gather to celebrate someone’s life. This can be a nice boost to everyone’s spirits and a patient’s overall mental health.
The emphasis on quality of life is taking hold in other hospice and palliative care programs as well. Though the term is not specifically defined as relating to end-of-life care, many medical experts say a focus beyond physical health goes a long way in making a patient feel connected and at peace.
Finding opportunities to focus on the positive, even in difficult circumstances, can improve a patient’s mood and well-being, which can help their overall health and sometimes even reduce the pace of their physical or mental decline. It also can be more beneficial to the people around them, who are going through their own grieving process.
Attention to quality of life can also create an opportunity for people to reflect on their lives and their role in the bigger picture, whether they’re receiving hospice care or supporting someone who is.
You also don’t have to wait for a somber occasion either, although this does tend to provide reasons for introspection: there’s never a bad opportunity to assess one’s place in the world.
International Quality of Life Month, which takes place in January, encourages people to look for ways to improve their own quality of life and figure out ways to contribute to and improve others’ life experiences.
Why it’s important
Hospice programs in the Cedar Rapids area also provide a variety of Quality of Life resources to every patient, including many services available to those receiving home health care.
These can include visits from different skilled therapists to provide regular services like massage, which can help relax the patient and ease any muscle pain they may be experiencing.
Other services that focus on helping a patient’s quality of life can include:
- Social work, where hospice staff works with the patient and their family members to figure out some of the confusing paperwork and other financial details. Perhaps family members haven’t wanted to talk about end-of-life topics like insurance, funeral arrangements or other money-related topics. The patient will have greater peace of mind being able to have a say in some of these items, and knowing that their loved ones won’t have to guess or experience conflict trying to guess what he or she would want.
- Bereavement services. Even after a patient is gone, their family can still receive comfort as they deal with their loss. This can include discussions with people with this type of care who can discuss what they’re feeling and find ways to treasure their loved one’s memory.
- General support. Above and Beyond Home Health Care has been offering its health services to residents in the Cedar Rapids area and the rest of Eastern Iowa since 2004 and hospice care since 2006. This means our staff has worked with all sorts of patients in different stages of their life. We also know the experience can be new and sometimes uncomfortable for many families. We’re always happy to listen and talk with patients and their family members. Some want to share their stories, some have questions and concerns. But everyone takes the time to engage in conversations
Overall, the staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care are always eager to discuss the quality of life topics with patients and their families.