A caregiver’s guide to the hospice conversation
by Laura Kretz
For those who find themselves as caregivers to a loved one, discussing end-of-life care can be stressful and challenging for everyone involved, especially when the caregiver is not sure where to begin with deciding the right option for their loved one.
“I think most people who make that decision early on have a better quality of life towards the end of their life,” said Dr. Sanjiv Josh, MD, MPH, as a ProMedica specialist in Family and Palliative Medicine.
Executive Director at Hospice of Northwest Ohio Judy Seibenick understands the difficult position caregivers go through when they reach this point in a patient’s life.
Questions to Answer;
“First, we would advise them to have a conversation with their doctor about what the expected course of the disease is,” said Seibenick. “Do they want to continue to pursue treatment and if so, how much will that help them? Will the rigors or side effects of treatment be detrimental to their quality of life? What are their goals for how they wish to spend the rest of their life? If they no longer wish to seek a cure, hospice is an excellent care option.”
According to Dr. Josh, hospice comes on board when the patient has a life expectancy of less than six months; in which case two physicians have to agree on that prognosis. Terminal illnesses such as kidney failure, congestive heart failure, cancer, dementia and HIV/AIDS are some of the many reasons why someone’s life nears to its end. Hospice sets out to treat the symptoms, not the cause.
Hospice in the home or a facility
Many hospices, like Hospice of Northwest Ohio, provide not only the medical needs for the patient, but also the spiritual and emotional needs for each patient and their family. Keep in mind that this quality of care can be provided wherever the loved one calls home, including a long-term care facility or assisted living center.
“Most patients can live in their own homes, with hospice staff making periodic visits to provide nursing care, personal care from an aide and a variety of other services that both patients and families find helpful,” said Seibenick.
Hospice in the home provides all of the medications and medical equipment needed for the care of the patient. Instruction is provided at every visit, which include the caregivers receiving printed information and 24/7 access to a hospice nurse.
Patients can move from hospice in the home to a hospice inpatient center, especially if the patient requires around-the-clock monitoring and care, as the situation progresses.
“A lot of people are afraid that hospice is going to help them die. And that’s not true. Hospice helps them in their dying,” Dr. Josh. “Hospice really is not an institution or a building. It’s a philosophy which means a focus on palliation.”
As always, talk to you general practitioner on which option is best for you or your loved one.