Many people associate hospice care with cancer, but this valuable type of end-of-life care can be administered to anyone who has been given a diagnosis of six months or less to live, regardless of their illness or condition. Here is a look at how hospice care can help heart disease patients.
When Are Heart Disease Patients Eligible for Hospice?
Once a physician has made the clinical determination that a patient’s life expectancy is six months or less should their heart disease run its expected course, the patient becomes eligible for hospice care.
There are a few characteristics that might be observed in patients who are at the end stage of congestive heart disease and are ready for hospice. Experiencing palpitations or fatigue when at rest or angina or dyspnea with exercise is one sign to look for.
In addition, patients who are being treated for congestive heart failure with vasodilators and diuretics or who are maximally medically managed without any available surgical options may also be eligible. Likewise, if a patient is not a candidate for invasive procedures or does not wish to undergo them, hospice may be an option.
Getting Your Loved One into Hospice
The decision to approach the topic of hospice can be a difficult one to make as the idea that someone is approaching the end of their life can be very unsettling to everyone involved.
However, it is important not to wait too long as many families say they wish they had started hospice sooner. Its focus on quality of life and comfort makes it a valuable aid to people with end-stage heart disease as well as other heart issues.
Be vigilant about monitoring your loved one’s symptoms. When you see them experiencing frequent bouts of angina or frequent tiredness and/or shortness of breath, you should talk to the doctor about a hospice evaluation to determine whether your loved one is eligible for hospice at this time.
How Hospice Helps Patients With Heart Disease
Hospice care is typically carried out in a patient’s home. Many patients prefer to be in the comfort and familiarity of their own house rather than in the cold and sterile environment of a hospital. However, those patients who are already living in long-term care facilities can receive hospice care there.
Hospice teams help manage these symptoms and coordinate with the patient’s cardiologist. They also bring in any medical equipment that is necessary and administer oxygen and prescriptions that can help the patient be more comfortable.
Another goal of hospice is keeping patients’ symptoms at a level that can be managed from home to avoid hospitalization. The rates of hospitalization during the last month of life for people receiving hospice treatment are lower than those who do not receive this care. It also provides a welcome sense of security knowing that someone is always available to help as needed.
If the patient wishes, hospice can also send a chaplain to help with spiritual and emotional wellness. They provide spiritual guidance aligned with the patient’s faith and help them explore questions and concerns related to what they are going through now and what is coming.
How Hospice Helps Patients’ Families
Hospice is intended to give dying patients comfort and care, but it also helps support families. Hospice team members help ease the burden on family caregivers and often give advice on facing the challenges that come with this trying time. Whether it is getting paperwork in order or dealing with the emotional distress of losing a loved one, hospice teams are there to help.
They also educate family members on the best ways to carry out their caregiving duties, which can be particularly reassuring when patients get to the stage where they are unable to communicate.
In addition, hospice nurses are always on call and ready to help family caregivers with matters such as making decisions about medication and any other questions or concerns that might arise during care. They also offer a bereavement team to help loved ones in the year after the patient dies to provide guidance through the grieving process.
Get In Touch with Harbor Light Hospice
If you are interested in finding out more about how hospice can help your loved one with heart disease, get in touch with the compassionate team at Harbor Light Hospice.
They can help you determine the right time to consider hospice and explain how their supportive hospice care services can provide your loved one with maximum comfort as they go through the final stage of their life.