All you need to know about hospice and how it could extend lives:
Author: Prathamesh Bhoite for Inksplore
The concept of hospice has been around for centuries, though the term has evolved greatly in its meaning over time. In the modern age, hospice includes seeing to a patient’s emotional, spiritual, and bodily needs, as well as caring for the patient through the use of modern medicine.
Most people wrongly assume that hospice is to be opted for when all other options have been exhausted and nothing else can be done for someone who is at death’s door. However, hospice is actually all about helping a patient live as long as possible and as well as possible, even if the patient is suffering from a terminal illness. It is usually beneficial to opt for hospice as early as possible, to keep the suffering of your loved ones to a minimum and help them transition to the other side smoothly.
According to research, American patients with terminal illnesses prefer to spend their remaining time at home instead of in an unfamiliar environment, making hospice the perfect option for them.
If you, as a patient with a terminal illness, are wondering if hospice is the right move for you, here is a brief overview of what hospice is all about and what you can expect if you do opt for it.
When is it the Right Time to Consider Hospice?
Generally, hospice care is considered when a qualified physician has certified that a patient is suffering from a terminal illness and has a life expectancy of 6 months or less. Persons of all ages are eligible for hospice care. If a person continues to live after the 6 months are up, hospice care can be continued with the approval of the doctor overseeing the care. Research has shown that people opting for hospice care live longer than people who don’t.
What Does Hospice Care Involve?
Hospice services are all about making a patient with a terminal illness as comfortable as possible in the final stages of his or her life. This means that hospice care will look after a patient’s medical and emotional needs. Caregivers will also attempt to fulfill a patient’s spiritual needs.
The patient will be cared for by a qualified doctor(s) and nurses. The patient can spend their remaining time with their family and friends at home, which is generally the most comfortable environment for them. A large majority of the care given to the patient is provided by volunteers – including friends and family members. Sometimes social workers, counselors and other trained volunteers also help with the patient’s care.
Hospice care will attempt to care for a patient according to the patient’s preferences, like whether the patient prefers conventional methods of treatment or alternative methods. Any pain that the patient is experiencing will be addressed and mitigated as early as possible. If the patient requires special equipment, like oxygen tanks or wheelchairs, it will be supplied as soon as possible by the staff.
It is possible to retain the services of the family physician during hospice. The physician can help oversee hospice care and provide comfort to the patient with his familiar presence. Hospice care is not limited to homes- patients living in assisted living facilities (old-age homes) and nursing homes can also avail of the service.
Is Hospice Expensive?
According to studies, hospice care is, at times, not as expensive as conventional care. Generally, they will both cost the same. Hospice is almost always more comfortable for the patient as well as the patient’s family, though.
If the patient is covered by private insurance, Medicaid or Medicaid, most of the cost for the hospice will be paid for by the insurance. The patient or the patient’s family will only have to pay a minimal amount for expenses not covered by insurance. If the patient is not covered by insurance, then there are several religious and civic charitable organizations in the country that can help a family with expenses if they are approached.
What Happens During Emergencies?
A hospice service will provide a number the patient or the patient’s family can call during emergencies, or if special support is needed. The staff treating the patient can be contacted at all times of the day and night. Emergency situations are handled efficiently, and all effort will be made to help the patient and make him or her comfortable.
Will I Be Separated From My Family?
No, if you opt for hospice care, you will not be separated from your family. The service attempts to address both the patient’s as well as the family’s emotional needs. There is no separation involved. In fact, even small children are allowed to meet the patient, so that they will learn to understand, and not fear, their own eventual mortality.