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Knowing When to Call Hospice: 3 Considerations for Caregivers accent

March 6, 2024 | By

When your loved one has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, you can experience a variety of thoughts and emotions. Cutting through these many thoughts and feelings is the desire for your loved one to experience the best quality of life possible, no matter how close they are to the end of life. 

Many families find that hospice care can help them achieve that goal. If you’re wondering when to call hospice, you’ll want to ensure you understand hospice care and consider three major factors that should influence your decision. 

Understanding Hospice Care

First, ensure you understand what hospice is — and what it isn’t. At its heart, hospice is holistic care designed to enhance the quality of life for people diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. Hospice can take place in various settings and often allows a person to spend the final chapter of life in the comfort of their own home.

You may have heard the term “palliative care” conflated with hospice care, but the two are not interchangeable. Anyone with a serious illness can receive palliative care which, like hospice, focuses on enhancing overall well-being and quality of life. Hospice care is reserved specifically for those who are nearing the end of life and no longer wish to undergo curative treatments.

Although hospice is intended for those nearing the end of their lives, a common myth persists that hospice care is intended only for those who are actively dying. In reality, people can benefit from hospice care for many months, and it may even increase their lifespan. Studies show that receiving at least one day of hospice care may increase life expectancy by up to three months.


Determining When to Call Hospice: Three Major Considerations

If any or all of these three considerations apply to your situation, it may be time to reach out to a hospice provider for your loved one. 


Declining Health

Declining health can indicate time for hospice care.  For many families, this decline is evidenced in more frequent trips to hospitals and emergency rooms. For others, it may be a noticeable decrease in activity level and appetite or an inability to perform activities of daily living. 

The decision to use hospice is typically not one you need to make alone. Your loved one’s healthcare team should provide insight into your loved one’s prognosis and whether hospice is an appropriate next step. To be eligible to receive hospice care, a person must be diagnosed with an illness that is expected (by their doctor) to limit the remainder of their life to six months or fewer.


Desire for Comfort 

When a disease or health decline negatively impacts a person’s quality of life, they may be able to experience more comfort through consistent symptom management at home. Sometimes, medical treatment can be physically and mentally exhausting, so when a person’s treatment is no longer curative, they may be ready to forgo medical treatment and instead focus on living the way they want to..

For many, comfort tops the priority list, which means spending more time at home, surrounded by friends and family. No matter how comfortable a person’s environment is, however, the final stage of life can be fraught with unique challenges. Hospice teams possess extensive experience in helping people cope with the realities of terminal illness while optimizing their quality of life. The comprehensive nature of hospice care means that the whole person’s needs — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual — are addressed so they feel fully supported.


Family Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout often impacts families. Considering the emotional strain that can come during end-of-life care, hospice can be a much-needed way to focus on simply being with your loved one rather than needing to manage more practical aspects of their care.

When dedicated hospice caregivers attend to your loved one, you can spend more time chatting, playing card games, reading aloud, praying together — whatever brings love and light to your and your loved one’s days.


When to Call Hospice: Is It Time for Hospice at Home? 

Recognizing the appropriate time to call hospice for your loved one comes down to an accurate understanding of hospice care and an honest conversation with your loved one’s doctor. If you and your loved one are considering this option, don’t put it off — many people wish they had embraced the benefits of hospice care sooner. 

By engaging hospice at the ideal time, families can ensure their loved ones experience the highest quality of life during their final chapter, surrounded by the comfort of home and the support of a dedicated hospice team.

Take a moment to learn more about in-home hospice care from WesleyLife

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