What is the best way to talk about hospice?
Hospice is a very positive option for someone with a terminal illness, but because it is not a curative treatment, people often find it difficult to discuss. Even physicians sometimes hesitate to bring up the subject because they don’t want to destroy hope. Patients and families should feel free to discuss hospice at any time, with each other, with their physician or other healthcare professionals, or with clergy or friends. Ask questions. Express your feelings and concerns. Communicate your wishes and preferences regarding end-of-life care. Be a good listener. Discussing hospice care as openly as possible, within individual comfort levels, allows the focus to remain on comfort, dignity and enhancing quality of life.
Is hospice only for those who have given up hope?
Some people do associate hospice with giving up hope. But the truth is, hope can take many forms, especially for those facing end-of-life issues. They may have hope for time with loved ones, hope for watching sunsets, hope for pain-free days and nights, and hope for dignity. With Hospice of Holland, all of these hopes can become reality.
Is hospice for people expected to live more than a few days?
Hospice can be made available once a physician determines that life expectancy is six months or less if the disease is allowed to run its normal course. Should the patient live beyond six months, hospice services will continue as long as the physician verifies that life expectancy does not exceed six months. Some patients have been with hospice for two years or longer.
Is hospice just for people with cancer?
No, it’s not limited to cancer. Persons with heart, lung or kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease or other life-limiting illnesses may qualify for hospice services.
Does hospice care hasten death?
The goal of hospice care is to neither prolong life nor hasten death. It is intended to enhance quality of life by providing pain relief and comfort as the illness runs its normal course.
Does hospice require the patient to change doctors?
No. The hospice team works closely with the patient’s physician to provide end-of-life care that will enhance his or her quality of life.
Who can refer a patient to hospice?
Physicians, hospital discharge planners, clergy, friends and family members can all suggest or recommend hospice care. Patients may even request it for themselves. Contact the physician for a referral, or contact us directly and ask for the admissions department.
Do hospice patients become addicted to pain medications?
There is often a need for increased medication at the end of life because pain frequently worsens as the disease progresses. Medication, used in the amounts necessary to control pain, does not cause addiction. Hospice works with the patient and physician to determine the appropriate amount of pain medication to be used on a routine basis to control the patient’s pain while maintaining quality of life.
When is it time for hospice?
A patient becomes eligible for hospice care when curative options have been exhausted or the risks of treatment outweigh the gains, and when the physician and hospice director certify the patient’s life expectancy to be six months or less if the illness runs its normal course. If, at any time, the focus should become curative once more, the patient may choose to withdraw from the program.
What signs indicate that a patient may be ready for hospice care?
- The patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
- Treatment to cure the disease is no longer effective, or is causing uncomfortable or life-threatening side effects.
- There is an increase in pain, nausea, shortness of breath, or other symptoms.
- Hospital or emergency room visits are more frequent, due to the life-limiting illness.
- It is increasingly difficult for the patient to rebound after medical emergencies related to the illness.
- The patient requires assistance in caring for his or her physical needs.
- The patient seems withdrawn, is constantly tired, or sleeps a great deal.
- Caregivers find it increasingly difficult to provide the care necessary; or they require assistance, emotional support, or additional information about what to expect.
- Finances are a growing concern and/or financial assistance is needed to help pay for medications or supplies related to the life-limiting illness.
- Family members feel overwhelmed and stressed.