Losing a loved one is no easy task. However, with Hospice Care services, you and your family are able to cherish and celebrate the life of your loved one. When a family member has a life-limiting illness, it can be difficult to prepare your family for Hospice Care and the difficult times ahead.
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is about life—enabling someone with a life-limiting illness to live fully, to have and achieve goals, enjoy loved ones and talk about the past, present, and even the future.
Hospice care can be provided in the patient’s home, at a senior care community or specialized hospice house.
The emphasis of hospice care services is on controlling physical and emotional pain. Hospice professionals work with families; they do not replace them.
Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and almost all insurance plans.
Who is on the Hospice Care Team?
Hospice care services utilize a personalized support system to provide the best quality of life, every day, for the hospice patient. An interdisciplinary team works with the patient and family members. The hospice care team includes:
- RN case managers
- Hospice aides
- Social workers
What will Hospice Care do?
Hospice Care professionals develop a care plan tailored to the patient’s needs and ensure that the patient’s daily requirements (feeding, medications, pain level monitoring, etc.) are met. Ongoing assessments are made as to what medical equipment is needed and how the equipment is delivered to the home.
In hospice care, Medicare also covers the cost of medications related to pain, anxiety, and agitation.
Aides make scheduled visits to the patient’s residence to provide personal care services such as bathing, dressing, and shaving. Along with these services and benefits for the patient, hospice care supports family members with their needs as well.
Talking to Loved Ones
When talking with family members about hospice care, there are many important questions to be discussed, including:
- Is curative treatment still an option?
- What is the patient’s quality of life?
- Is it time for comfort care?
- What are the family’s roles and responsibilities?
Each family is different, and how you prepare your family for hospice care will vary. Individual conversations may be the way to discuss the provision of hospice care in your family, or it might be beneficial for family members to meet with hospice professionals.
The important thing to remember is hospice care is not about giving up. Instead, it’s focused more on the patient’s quality of life.
Hospice Care’s Toll on Caregivers
The stress of caring for a seriously ill loved one can create problems for the caregiver/family member, such as:
- Mental and physical exhaustion
- Detachment from other people
- Decreased interest in work and social activities
- Increased use of alcohol or medications
Hospice care professionals recognize the toll caring for someone with a serious illness can take. That is why they offer programs to help support caregivers as well.
For example, hospice care organizations may offer respite care—a service that provides relief when family caregivers have personal needs or family responsibilities require them to leave the home for an extended period of time.
Hospice Care professionals also realize that caring about a loved one does not end upon their death. Family members may need to address many issues in conjunction with their feelings of loss and grief. Hospice care organizations provide access to the ongoing support they seek.
Hospice Caregiver Tips
For those caring for a loved one in the home, here are some helpful tips:
- Check for unsafe conditions.
- Keep a list of emergency numbers.
- Keep a list of patient medications.
If you are working with a hospice care organization, write down your questions for them in between visits.
Finally, try to remember that every day will not be the same for a hospice patient—emotionally as well as physically. Your loved one may want to talk about what is happening. They may want to share a long-held memory, ask for reassurance, tell a joke, have a casual conversation, or simply sit quietly in the room with you. Listen and watch for these moments. These are memories that you’ll cherish forever.
When a person is dealing with a life-limiting illness, it can be a trying time for the patient’s loved ones. Bethesda’s dedicated care professionals can make the transition more comfortable for the whole family. To learn more about Bethesda’s Hospice Care services, please contact us online or call 314-963-2200.