Families sometimes feel devastated to hear the news “your loved one needs hospice care,” especially if they’re unfamiliar with the palliative care options that can be provided to residents of Mount Vernon and elsewhere.
In most cases, the reaction is more due to the announcement that a loved one will pass away soon, unhappy news that no one wants to hear. It’s also sometimes due to general unfamiliarity with the modern hospice program.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice have an important role in educating families, caregivers, and clients about what end-of-life care is. It’s a role that they take seriously but also are sensitive to the challenges that families will be dealing with. While some of the staff has been working for hospice programs for years or even decades, it might be a new experience for clients, which makes it concerning and maybe even a little frightening.
But often, once they learn more about hospice, many agree that this type of end-of-life care has some advantages compared to traditional care.
Because it focuses on quality of life for the client, this can be appealing. This means that they don’t have to stay in the hospital where it’s hard to get rest. It means they can stay at home surrounded by their environment and loved ones.
Access to hospice care means that clients can utilize the resources of a local program, which can include all sorts of assistance, including home health care, regular visits from nurses, plus other services like massage therapy and physical therapy.
It can also include other support, including help from social workers who can discuss everything from final paperwork and funeral arrangements to general end-of-life discussion at a philosophical or spiritual level.
Clients also have access to pain management options which could also be welcome. Since providers no longer focus on a “cure,” no matter how invasive or painful, there’s more attention to pain management while still helping them stay lucid.
There are plenty of other reasons why Hospice’s approach that focuses on death with dignity is becoming an option that many people are becoming interested in.
Learn ahead of time
Experts in palliative care, which includes hospice care, are always happy to recommend hospice care in cases where someone only has a limited amount of time remaining in their life due to a terminal medical condition.
However, they also encourage people to learn more about it before they have to. This way, they aren’t overwhelmed by everything when hospice is recommended.
They’ll be familiar with everything offered and can think about the move fairly rationally, instead of blending the decision with the start of their grief.
Unfortunately, many members of Western culture, including Americans, have an aversion to talking about death until they are forced to when it presents itself. That’s why some people die without making wills, leaving messy property disputes for heirs – and their lawyers – to resolve.
Some families also fail to make funeral and burial arrangements, leaving surviving family members to make these decisions, which can also lead to arguments or simple emotional fatigue as they have to focus on little details like music or coffin styles when they should focus on their grief or gathering with loved ones.
These are the same reason funeral homes encourage people to make their arrangements before they have to since it will give clear instructions to survivors and not require tough decisions.
It also is useful to learn about area hospice programs in advance, either for you or for family members. You can learn what services they provide and their various costs. Though Medicare may pay for some basic services, there may be some other costs especially if someone wants to stay at home instead of move to a long-term care facility.
Part of learning about hospice is getting answers to any questions you and your family members may have. This info can help you and your family’s planning efforts and reduce stress when hospice does become an option.
Some questions can include:
- What kind of services are provided? This can include nursing care plus other therapists. Are staff on a regular schedule each week or do they come as needed?
- What kind of training and experience has the staff has? Hospice nurses and aides often have more training in end-of-life care. Some nurses have worked with hospice programs for a long time. Some prefer it to others while other nurses don’t.
- Is equipment provided or will the family provide it? This can include walkers, beds, or other items.
- Will the staff rotate or will the same people be assigned?
- Are providers available for questions or house calls?
- Who can be called for emergencies?
The hospice program also may enjoy meeting you, introducing you to staff, and explaining their programs and services when there isn’t a “ticking clock” of needing services right away, especially if you may not be in good health in the future. This gives them more time to explain what they can offer and you can discuss it with family members.
This month is also an opportunity to learn more: World Hospice and Palliative Care Day just took place on Oct. 8, and there are also other online resources to learn more.