Hospice makes end of life more bearable

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 8, 2017

Accepting hospice does not shorten the life of the patient, but the management of pain and symptoms serves to make patients and their families more comfortable.

Also, with a  nurse coming into the home and checking the patient during the week (each patient has an individualized plan of care based upon patient needs and requests), infections and other healthcare conditions can be recognized by the staff and communicated to the physician in a timely manner to prevent complications and to maintain comfort.

In most circumstances, the sooner a patient accesses hospice services, the more they and their loved ones will benefit from the care received.

A patient is ready for hospice when a terminal disease has reached an advanced stage, the patient is no longer seeking curative treatments, the Medicare/Medicaid disease specific criteria guidelines are documented in the patients medical records, and a medical physician has agreed that the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less if the disease follows the normal course.

Please note, life expectancy is never “by the book,” some patients may live longer than six months, and some may not.

Unfortunately, at times due to the complexity of emotions sometimes associated with hospice, some physicians may be reluctant to recommend hospice for a patient no longer seeking curative measures for an advance terminal disease but will instead refer the patient to home health.

When this is the case, hospice is usually called in during the last few days or weeks of the patients life, which does not allow ample time for the patient and family to fully benefit from the emotional and spiritual support.  Since hospice addresses the specific needs and concerns during end-of life care, it has been said, “if you qualify for hospice, it is always the better choice.”

Research published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that terminally-ill patients who received hospice care lived on average 29 days longer than those who did not opt for hospice near the end of life.

Source: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

As sad as it is to know you or your loved one has an advanced terminal illness – knowing gives the opportunity to make the most of the time that is left – however long or short that may be.

• Not everyone has the opportunity to live their last days surrounded by those they love.   

  Not everyone has the opportunity to say, “I love you” and kiss their loved one goodbye.

Please speak to your physician if you think it may be time for you or your loved one to find out if hospice care is appropriate, or you may direct your questions to Comfort Care Hospice at 334-427-4000.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”  Ambrose Redmoon