When you know a loved one is elderly or has a life-limiting illness, it’s time to start thinking about hospice care. This may be a difficult time, and on top of anticipating how to handle your loved one’s passing, you want to ensure they’re cared for while they’re still living. We’ll take you through some recommended steps on deciding if it’s the right time to consider hospice care.
What is Hospice Care?
The concept of hospice care can be a little confusing to some. Hospice care involves providing for people that have a short time to live, usually six months or less. The care provided for the patient isn’t standard medical attention, as patients that are admitted to hospice care are on the verge of passing away. The goal of hospice care is to improve the quality of life for hospice patients.
Perhaps you’re not sure if accepting hospice care is too early or too extreme for your loved one. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you make the best decision for you and your loved one:
How Long Does My Loved One Have to Live?
Before you decide whether or not to put your loved one in hospice, consider how much time they have left. If the physician tells you they have at least a year or more left, it may be too soon. Generally, six months or less is a good amount of time to move your loved into hospice care.
Can He/She Perform ADLs?
ADLs, or ability to perform daily activities, is something you should consider when deciding whether or not to admit your loved one to hospice care. ADLs relate to activities most people can perform by themselves, such as bathing/showering, getting on or off the toilet, getting dressed, feeding themselves, and other similar actions. If your loved one can no longer perform these actions alone or isn’t cognizant enough to, this could be reason to consider hospice care.
Does He/She Have Continence Issues?
The older one gets, the more likely they are to have common continence problems. Although this can usually be solved with hygiene items like adult diapers, if your loved one has little to no control over their ability to control their bowel movements, this issue is something to note in the deciding if hospice care is the right choice.
How Severe is His/Her Memory Loss?
If your loved one is elderly, it’s likely that they may be suffering from some form of memory loss. Common forgetfulness isn’t something to be worried about, but if your loved one suffers from severe memory loss, or another cognitive disability, keep this in mind in your decision.
Receive Doctor’s Approval
Usually a hospice care unit won’t admit a patient unless there is expressed permission from a certified physician. As mentioned, a physician generally will recommend hospice once it’s been determined that the patient has six months or fewer to live. Ask your loved one’s physician or a hospice physician what they currently recommend.
Who Should Administer Care?
With so many questions to have answered, it’s important to think about who will administer care. Some people prefer to care for their loved one themselves or with the help of family members. Sometimes this is to maintain privacy for the family and to make the loved one’s last moments more intimate. What some people don’t know is that there are hospice options available for patients choose to remain at home. If you would prefer your loved one stay at home, but you worry about the difficulties of providing care alone, consider at-home hospice care.
Choosing the Right Time for Hospice Care
There’s a lot to think about when deciding if the time is right to admit your loved one for hospice care. By asking your hospice care provider the right questions, you’ll be able to make the right decision for you, your family, and your loved one. Now that you have some clarity about hospice care, consider thinking about the best option for your loved one. Harbor Light Hospice is a national hospice agency, with hospice professionals that you can contact in person, online, or over the phone. Contact us today for more information about considering when the time is right to choose hospice care for your loved one.