What is hospice?
After diagnosis of a terminal illness, what will matter most to you? Do you want to manage your symptoms and pain level? Do you want to stay at home with loved ones? Do you want to ensure that your family members are receiving the emotional support they need? The goal of hospice is to provide you the care you need so you can focus on what matters most to you and your family.
Hospice differs from traditional medical care in that it provides physical, emotional and spiritual care for the patient and offers support to the caregiver. Caregivers can receive one-on-one sessions with counselors or chaplains and receive respite from their caregiving duties by utilizing volunteer services. Hospice care isn’t delivered by just one person but rather a team consisting of physicians, nurses, home health aides, volunteers, counselors, social workers and chaplains who work together to achieve the goals of the patient of living a life full of quality, dignity and respect.
What isn’t hospice?
There are many myths surrounding hospice, but one of the biggest misconceptions is that hospice is about dying and even hastens death. Hospice focuses on living and aims to make the remaining time of a patient’s life full of quality and dignity. None of the care received while on hospice will accelerate the dying process.
Another common myth is that hospice is just for the last days or moments of life. One of the qualifying factors for hospice is a diagnosis that a patient has six months or less to live. Far too often, individuals wait too long to utilize hospice, and patients and their caregivers are unable to truly benefit from all the excellent added services hospice has to offer, like music therapy. Waiting too long limits the scope of hospice care and doesn’t allow for the patients to truly experience all the support hospice has to offer.
When talking about end-of-life care, what’s most important is that individuals have expressed their wishes on the type of care they want to receive. Having these difficult conversations now, before there is a health crisis, will decrease the amount of unnecessary stress and anxiety for the future.