When is the Time for Hospice? 10 Signs It May be Time for Hospice Care
Hospice is an important part of health care and should be provided as needed. It assists in a person passing to their end of life in comfort and without pain whenever possible. Hospice provides end of life care that is intended to be peaceful and free of pain and discomfort, worry and stress. It also helps to meet the emotional needs of the patient and the family during the most difficult times.
Hospice is a type of care provided for those who are beyond treatments and for whom end of life is near. There are a few signs that it is time to move into hospice, and these ten signs can help to make that choice.
10 Signs It May be Time for Hospice Care
1. Emergency Visits
An increase in visits to the emergency room that become frequent and lead to more and more time spent hospitalized it may be time to consider hospice. As providing care at home is often impossible and emergency attention is required it becomes necessary to look at other options. There is increased need for constant care and attention that can not be provided at home.
2. Unmanaged Pain
When pain is a constant and continues to increase it can become unmanageable. Hospice care addresses the pain in a palliative care way with a focus not on functionality to extended life, but with a focus of eliminating pain. If normal pain management is no longer working hospice can offer alternatives that are not available at home. These are intended to improve quality of life with no concern for the quantity of years or months that may be left.
3. Breathing Concerns
It can be difficult to address breathing problems at any time, but to do so at home can be nearly impossible. Hospice care has full access to medical supplies of all types and can help to ease breathing concerns as end of life nears. Difficulty breathing, shallow breath, and gasping to breath are all signs it may be best to consider hospice care. Inability to breath correctly can be both scary and painful, and hospice can address both of those concerns in easing breathing.
4. Loss of Interest in Eating
Near the end of life there is often a large shift in appetite. A loss of interest in food can occur and there may be no joy found in eating meals or snacks. This may be a sign that they body is no longer requiring as many calories, or is beginning to shut down some functions.
5. Rapid Weight Loss
As appetite loss increases weight loss will speed up. Dramatic amounts of weight loss are a sign that the body is not maintaining itself correctly. The body may begin to shut down and will not process foods correctly, leading to large amounts of weight being lost quickly. Hospice can ensure that comfort is maintained during this process, keeping the person warm and peaceful.
Though there are many risks, one that grows quickly as the body weakens is risk of infection. If infections are becoming more frequent and harder to cure hospice may be necessary. These will weaken the body quickly and it’s ability to fight back is greatly diminished as end of life nears. The toll on the body can not be undone. Hospice care manages these in a way that limits pain and eases discomfort.
7. Increased Time Spent Sleeping
Weakness within the body and the decrease in calorie consumption will often lead to increased time sleeping. As the body slows and regular activity becomes more difficult more time will be spent sleeping. Excessive time sleeping is a sign that the body is storing energy and going through changes. This can be a sign that hospice should be considered in preparation for the next transition.
8. Need for Constant Care
Inability to care for oneself leads to an increased need of care from others. This is expanded as illness takes over and there will need to be increased care as time passes. When it is no longer feasible for the caretaker to provide for the increased needs at home hospice is a consideration. As the body weakens things like bathroom use and meals become tasks that require assistance and hospice care has trained care providers who can assist with those tasks.
9. Loss of Memory and Increasing Confusion
During the months and weeks prior to end of life the functioning of the entire body and mind will decrease. As the brain becomes weakened there will be increased confusion and the inability to remember people, faces, tasks, events. Declining cognitive function affects all areas of life and can leave a confused person in a dangerous situation. They may wander or become lost, forget to care for themselves, even forget their caretaker becoming frightened of them. Trained hospice workers are prepared mentally and emotionally for these occurrences and know how to help with them. The best care for this decline is provided in a hospice or palliative care situation.
10. Encouragement From Doctors and Care Providers
As palliative care and hospice care are considered there will be guidance from the doctors and others providing treatment. When they are encouraging a consideration for hospice it is important to begin looking into or beginning the process. It may take time to get the right care in place and the sooner plans begin the more prepared the family will be. If the main doctor caring for your family member recommends palliative care or hospice it is important to consider it.
Many who enter palliative care will not return to their normal life, but some may. Those who are unable to care for themselves, who are in constant pain that can not be managed at home, or who have only a few months of life left. Hospice care eases pain, provides safe care, and promotes emotional and mental health for both the patient and their family. When it is not safe or reasonable to care for someone at home, and you are unable to keep them comfortable, then it is time to consider hospice care.
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