Everyone will die eventually, and we all know it, but most of us don’t want to think about it let alone talk about it.
Death is scary for everyone – for the person dying as well as the loved ones left behind. But as with many things, sometimes not talking about it can be more harmful than talking about it.
When a person is terminally ill, and cure-oriented treatments are no longer working, it is important to discuss how to make that person’s remaining time as comfortable as possible. It isn’t easy. In fact, it will probably be one of the hardest things you ever do, but it’s also one of the best things you can do for your loved one.
Hospice – a frequently misunderstood type of care – can often help.
What Hospice is NOT
Before we talk about what hospice care is, let’s talk about what it is not. Hospice care is NOT giving up hope, and it does NOT hasten death. Sometimes patients in hospice actually live longer according to one study cited by the New Yorker:
“…Researchers followed 4,493 Medicare patients with either terminal cancer or congestive heart failure. They found no difference in survival time between hospice and non-hospice patients with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Curiously, hospice care seemed to extend survival for some patients; those with pancreatic cancer gained an average of three weeks, those with lung cancer gained six weeks, and those with congestive heart failure gained three months. The lesson seems almost Zen: you live longer only when you stop trying to live longer.”
About Hospice Care
Hospice is a philosophy of care that realizes that death is a natural part of life. The goal of hospice caregivers is to help terminally ill patients die with grace and dignity and allow them to make the most of the time they have left with their loved ones.
Hospice provides comfort, answers, resources, and support to both patients and their loved ones who sometimes need more support than the patient. Hospice caregivers address physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. The focus of hospice is on enhancing a patient’s quality of life, preserving their dignity, and helping them deal with end-of-life issues.
A patient doesn’t need to be bed-bound to receive hospice care, and while hospice does sometimes occur in hospitals, 40 percent of patients in the U.S. receive hospice care at home. Generally, hospice care is meant for terminally ill patients who are expected to die within the next six months. Usually, all that is required is a doctor’s referral, and it is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans.
Here are some of the services typically provided in hospice care:
- Pain management
- Daily activities support like bathing, dressing, eating, etc.
- Medical supply management
- Respite care
No matter what your age or medical condition, thinking about your death or the death of a loved one is scary. But everyone deserves to die with grace and dignity, and hospice care can help. If you have more questions about hospice care, please feel free to give us a call at (610) 621-1260. We’d be happy to discuss some options with you.