When is it Time to Begin Hospice Care?
Earlier this month The Huffington Post published a first-person essay by author Marie Marley about her experience with hospice care. Marley spent time as a caregiver for her partner during his battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, and was initially reluctant to engage hospice services towards the end of his life. At the time, she believed her partner wasn’t ready to begin hospice, but she later came to understand that in reality she wasn’t ready. Marley sees this as a common struggle for people facing similar situations. She writes:
The caregiver and patient may (irrationally) feel that engaging hospice care services would be tantamount to signing the patient’s death warrant. It may seem that as long as hospice care is not started, the person will live longer than six months.
This is certainly understandable. The word hospice often seems intimidating and foreboding to the inexperienced. But in Marley’s view, this attitude comes at a very high cost.
…[T]his delay robs both the terminally-ill person and the caregiver of what can be a wonderful and peaceful period of time. It robs them of what can be a months-long beautiful conclusion to their relationship.
Marley goes on to write about her positive hospice experience and how the process helped her slow down and include as much daily joy as possible in her partner’s final days. You can read her entire piece here.
When Will You Know it’s Time to Begin Hospice Care?
Marley’s piece focuses primarily on the emotional process she went through making the choice for her partner to begin hospice. And while caregiver and family emotions are a big component in accepting hospice care, the patient’s physical condition also plays an important role.
Hospice can begin once two doctors agree that a patient has six months or less to live. But not all patients may require that level of care right away. If, however, you begin to see any of the following symptoms, it may be time to seek out hospice services:
- Increased or uncontrolled pain
- Progressive weight loss
- Decreased ability to perform daily activities
- Frequent infections
- Frequent hospitalizations or ER visits
- Increased weakness and/or fatigue
- Increased skin problems
- Withdrawal, confusion, bed-bound
Hospice care can address these symptoms in ways in-home care cannot. And the relief that comes with treatment can vastly improve a patient’s quality-of-life during their final days. Plus, the family members will have the important support they’ll need to navigate a difficult time.
Southland Hospice Can Help
If you live in the greater Phoenix area and have questions about hospice care, we can help. Call us today at (602)-497-4100 or fill out the form on our Contact page. Our hospice team is committed to providing comfort, care, dignity through end-of-life transitions. And while the idea of hospice may be difficult to accept at first, we know – the same way Marie Marley knows – that the experience can be transformative.