People who are facing the end of their lives more quickly than they expected may not realize just how much hospice care services can help. This accounts for the fact that many people wait until the very end of life to opt for this type of care.
Understanding when hospice care might be helpful can make life-limiting conditions easier to manage, especially as they continue to worsen over time.
A Short Prognosis
The most common time that people opt for hospice care is when they have been advised by their medical teams that they have six months or fewer left. No prognosis can be accurate, so it’s important to understand that these are estimates of the time left. Doctors and other medical providers do all that they can to assess the person’s condition as accurately as possible to give the best options for comfort and end-of-life care.
Decline in Function
As life-limiting conditions become worse, they bring with them a decline in a person’s ability to continue to function. This affects activities of daily living and mobility, often with an increased need for additional care. Hospice can help families manage the impact on quality of life and dignity when functioning decreases drastically.
Frequent hospitalizations are an indication that curative treatments may not be providing the benefits to the patient that they once were. Patients with life-limiting conditions may not be willing to go back to the hospital repeatedly and may find it to be too interruptive to what time they have left. The goal often becomes improving quality of life as much as possible and hospice can help with that.
Comfort Becomes the Priority
Often life-limiting conditions are treated with aggressive therapies that aren’t all that comfortable. Even if other aspects of daily life aren’t hindered too severely, comfort may be the deciding factor in some cases when it comes to making decisions around hospice. This option allows patients to see care that aligns with their end-of-life goals.
Pain management is a big problem when it comes to managing life-limiting conditions. Patients who are unable to manage pain experience serious impacts on their daily lives and often need to find another way to cope. Hospice care can offer therapies and treatments that may not be available if patients continue down a curative path.
Limited Benefit from Curative Therapies
At some point, it’s also possible that curative therapies are no longer helpful at all. Any benefit that they provided to the patient in the past may no longer have the same impact. This is typically when the focus moves from curative interventions to comfort and quality of life, which is where hospice care therapies are most helpful.
Individual Wishes Changed
The patient’s needs and wants are incredibly important and that’s true when it comes to deciding about hospice as well. When the patient facing a life-limiting condition expresses their wish for a peaceful experience, that’s when hospice can offer a lot of tools to help make that happen. The hospice team can coordinate with other healthcare providers, ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
Hospice care is a complicated decision and there’s a lot for families to consider. Understanding when hospice can offer the most assistance can make that decision easier.