End-of-Life Hospice Care

Compassionate End of Life Care

Hospice care is a specialized form of support for individuals diagnosed with a terminal illness and a life expectancy of less than six months. When provided at home, hospice care offers consolation and compassionate assistance to patients with terminal illnesses and their families within the familiar surroundings of their residences. This type of care focuses on managing symptoms and honoring the patient’s dignity and preferences as they approach the end of life.

One of the key advantages of hospice at home is that patients can receive care in a familiar and comfortable environment. Many individuals prefer to spend their final days in the familiarity of their own homes. Hospice care services can facilitate this preference.

Reduced Pain and Symptom Management

The most common diagnoses for hospice care typically include dementia, cancer, stroke, and heart or lung disease. Hospice care prioritizes the comfort of patients once the individual has chosen to discontinue curative treatment. Services provided include medical care, pain management, and emotional support to ensure the well-being of the patient during this delicate time.

The primary goal is to ensure your loved one’s last months are as comfortable and meaningful as possible. Hospice’s priority is alleviating pain and distressing symptoms. By receiving care from our hourly or 24/7 live-in home hospice caregivers working alongside hospice care teams, patients experience the benefits of reduced pain and minimized side effects from treatment, improving their quality of life. This type of care incorporates palliative measures to minimize symptoms and provide social, emotional, and spiritual support. 

The Benefits of In-Home Hospice Care

Our caregivers provide personalized care to promote comfort and assistance, taking into account an individual’s preferences and specific needs. Services include personal hygiene, toileting and bathing, incontinence care, medication management, and administration, ambulation, and transfers. For family members, hospice care at home is often preferred as it maximizes their ability to be present and provide support to their loved ones, compared to hospitalized patients.

Comfort care includes personal assistance with hygiene, skin integrity care, help with feeding, and respite care for families. Visits from social workers, spiritual care, and other supports can help families and patients work through their fears and concerns as death approaches. Hospice provides the ability for visits by relatives and friends as desired. The patient and family can choose the services and activities they feel are most important and comfortable with, or decline those that they aren’t interested in.

Paying for Hospice Care

Insurance options can provide the assistance needed for hospice care. Medicare and Medicaid insurance plans have a hospice benefit that pays for hospice patients to receive care at home. A referral may be required from the patient’s primary care doctor to receive these insurance benefits. 

How to Know When It Is Time for Hospice

The aging process can be challenging for individuals and those who love them. It is common for elderly people with declining health to experience a sense of loss of independence and difficult emotions such as feeling their illness is a burden on family members. Due to this, those with declining health may not always share how they are feeling. Understanding the potential signs that your loved one is progressing to the final stages of life can help family members proactively manage the transition to hospice care with dignity and compassion, reduce anxiety, and honor your aging loved ones’ wishes.

What Indications to Look For

Hospice care might be the solution if your elderly parents or another loved one has a terminal illness and their priorities are comfort, quality of life enhancement, and time spent with loved ones. When a medical professional determines that a patient has six months or less to live, if their sickness persists, hospice treatment may begin. Hospice care is not about curing the illness; rather, it is about managing symptoms and providing pain relief. The following are some indicators that your elderly parent or loved one may need to think about hospice care:

Changes in Effectiveness and Desire for Treatment: A patient may no longer desire to receive aggressive intervention and/or treatment is no longer effective.

Symptoms become more difficult to manage: Research indicates that pain typically intensifies in the final two years of life, peaking in the last four months. Unmanaged pain can result in additional complications like breathlessness, restlessness, and anxiety. If you observe an escalation of pain and challenging symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, or unhealed pressure ulcers despite treatment, consider seeking hospice care for assistance.

Frequent confusion and restlessness: Elderly individuals nearing the end of life may experience confusion, agitation, and occasional combativeness. They may exhibit disorientation, hallucinations, or delusions, such as believing they possess greater strength than reality or feeling threatened by others.

Increasingly frequent hospitalization: As individuals grow older, especially those aged 75 and above, there is a tendency for heightened utilization of emergency services. A series of visits to various healthcare providers or hospitals within the preceding six months can serve as an indicator of deteriorating health.

Decreasing abilities:  Your elderly parents or loved ones may experience limitations in performing personal care tasks they previously managed independently, such as bathing, dressing, or eating. Alternatively, they may have transitioned from moving around autonomously to relying on assistive devices like wheelchairs or walkers. If they feel unwell most of the time or have discontinued activities they used to do, these indications can suggest that they may benefit from hospice services.

Diminishing ability to communicate: Decreased circulation, hearing and vision problems, and other issues may affect your aging parents’ speech and ability to follow conversations. As a result, they may start to withdraw from activities and people they love.

Minimal appetite or unexplained weight loss: Decreased appetite and unexplained weight loss can indicate a decline in bodily functions or difficulties with food digestion. For instance, an individual who has relied on tube feedings for an extended period might start experiencing stomach discomfort. Alternatively, they may exhibit reduced food consumption, lack of appetite, or attempt to eat despite not feeling hungry.

Excessive sleeping: During the final stages of life, individuals may experience an increase in sleeping patterns as their body functions decelerate. It is common to observe them spending extended periods resting in a chair or bed throughout the day.

Multiple and recurrent infections: The advancement of a disease is frequently characterized by deteriorating symptoms and repeated occurrences of infections like pneumonia, sepsis, or urinary tract infections. It may become apparent that infections occur with greater frequency.

Need for Caregiver Assistance

Feeling overwhelmed as a caregiver: As the caregiving responsibilities for your aging parents or loved ones increase, your stress levels may rise. Acknowledging the need for caregiver assistance and utilizing available hospice care resources will ensure optimal care for your declining loved one and help facilitate a positive environment and experience.

Our experts at Perfect Care Match are available to answer questions you may have related to in-home hospice care. Please contact us to learn more about this option.