When and How to Begin End of Life Care
Knowing when it’s time for a loved one to enter hospice in Santa Clara and elsewhere can be difficult, confusing, stressful and sad. But there are guidelines in place that you can follow to ensure your loved one enters end of life care at the right time for them and for the whole family. Comfort care is an essential part of medical care that occurs at the end of life, designed to help or soothe a person who is dying. The goal is to prevent or relieve suffering as much as possible, thereby improving the quality of life while respecting the patient’s wishes, says the National Institute on Aging.
In general, those who are dying require care in four primary areas:
- Physical comfort
- Mental and emotional needs
- Practical tasks
- Spiritual issues
But in addition to the patient, families also need a lot of support at this time. At the end of life, every story is different. Death could come suddenly, or it can come on slowly, as the person gradually fades. For older people, oftentimes, their bodies weaken while their minds are still alert. Other people stay strong in a physical sense but suffer from extensive cognitive issues. In the end, each loss is personally felt by those closest to the person who has passed on.
End-of-life care is a term that describes the support and medical care given during the time before death. This care doesn’t just happen in the minutes leading up to dying where the heart stops and breathing ceases. Rather, people can live with debilitating chronic illness and need round-the-clock care for days, weeks or months before death.
The Process of Hospice
End of life care usually comes into play when the patient’s physician has deemed curative treatment is no longer working. In general, hospice care is used when the patient is expected to live no more than six months. This must be determined by a doctor. Once that confirmation happens, the patient and family members can seek hospice care.
Studies show hospice care is not always started soon enough. Sometimes the doctor, patient, or family member resists hospice because they assume it means they are giving up or that they no longer have hope. However, reassures the American Cancer Society, the hope that hospice can bring is a quality life that makes the best of each day during the last stages of advanced illness.
Once the decision to enter hospice has been made, your hospice care team will develop a special plan just for you and your loved ones. The focus will be on making your pain and symptoms better. Doctors will give you medical care. Nurses will check on you, make sure you’re comfortable, take vitals, etc. And aides can assist with anything from bathing and dressing to cleaning and cooking.
You can also expect:
- Chaplain and spiritual services for you and your family
- Social work and counseling
- Medicine to ease your pain
- Medical equipment and supplies
- Advice on eating
- Physical and speech therapy
- Social workers
- Vigil volunteers
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, research has shown that hospice care can help the entire family. Family members are encouraged to take an active role in giving supportive care to their loved one; as a result, the family will experience fewer feelings of helplessness and the patient will receive an adjunct of care that offers a high level of personalization.
Hospice can take place in a facility or in the patient’s home. This involves a discussion between the physician, patient, and family to decide what’s best for the individual. It’s important to remember that hospice is a philosophy of care, not a brick-and-mortar location, points out the AARP. While most people say they wish to die at home, only one in four ends up doing so. The biggest reason is that it’s often too hard for family members to care for someone with a serious illness, especially at home. If you decide to enter hospice at home, hospice will bring everything you may need, from hospital beds and commodes to medications and bandages. Those daunted by home care can opt for hospice care in a caring, compassionate facility where they have access to all the equipment, medical expertise, and support possible.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
As one of the country’s first hospice providers, Pathways brings decades of experience to the table when it comes to helping people live their remaining days the best they can, in comfort and dignity. Our other goal is to ease the weight of care for families, allowing patients and loved ones to cherish their remaining time together.
Our hospice care services are designed to relieve symptoms, control pain, and give patients the support they need. On top of providing medical, nursing, and personal care, Pathways offers emotional, practical and spiritual support for both patients and their loved ones. To learn more, contact us at 888-978-1306.