Ventilator withdrawal is a stressful, scary, and often overwhelming experience for many patients and their family members. However, hospice care can help make the ventilator withdrawal experience easier for all involved. Learn more about how hospice care can be beneficial throughout this challenging process.
What Is Ventilator Withdrawal?
During severe illness, many patients become too weak to breathe on their own. A ventilator is a medical device that allows for artificial respiration. It is used when a patient can no longer optimally breathe on their own.
Ventilator withdrawal refers to the removal of the ventilator. This process can lead to severe side effects and often carries the risk of death, so it can be a huge decision for patients and their family to make and support. The ultimate goal of ventilator withdrawal is to allow the patient’s illness to take its natural course without artificially prolonging their life.
Why Might A Patient Or Their Family Member Choose Ventilator Withdrawal?
There are a number of reasons why a patient may choose ventilator withdrawal. In general, ventilator withdrawal is chosen with the understanding that the patient may not survive for more than a few weeks afterward. Subsequently, the goal is to improve the quality of life for the patient during and after the withdrawal. Specifically, a patient or their loved one (if they are unable to make the decision themselves) may choose ventilator withdrawal if the condition is terminal and the patient does not desire further treatment or artificial respiration.
Keep in mind that ventilator withdrawal is different from weaning someone off of a ventilator. Most who choose ventilator withdrawal do so with the understanding that they (or their loved one) will not survive. If the illness is not terminal and the patient’s condition is improving, then the medical staff may recommend weaning them off of a ventilator.
What Are The Benefits Of Hospice Care With A Ventilator Withdrawal?
As mentioned, ventilator withdrawal is a difficult decision and can be a real challenge. Hospice care can make the ventilator withdrawal process easier for patients and their family members by providing spiritual counseling, support for family members, and improving the overall quality of life for the patient, among other notable benefits.
Reduced Pain And Anxiety
The primary purpose of hospice care assistance with ventilator withdrawal is to ensure that the patient has all of the care and support they need and desire. The hospice care team can assist with both the physical and emotional needs of the patient, helping them deal with anxiety and, along with the assistance of the medical team, helping them deal with and minimize discomfort.
Spiritual counseling is often needed during ventilator withdrawal to help the patient and their family deal with the experience, especially if the withdrawal is likely to be fatal. Most hospice care teams include a chaplain who can offer spiritual counseling and pray with the patient and their loved ones. This is one of the biggest parts of hospice care for many patients and family members as they go through the process of ventilator withdrawal.
Support For Family Members
In addition to helping the patient who is going through the withdrawal, family members often need support as well. The hospice care team, which consists of counselors, nurses, chaplains, and more, is there to assist with the emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of the patient’s family members. The hospice care team also takes the responsibility off the shoulders of family members, allowing them to spend meaningful time with their loved one.
Assistance With Activities Of Daily Living (ADLs)
Another major benefit that hospice care provides for patients going through withdrawal is assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing and eating. As mentioned, this largely takes the responsibility away from their loved ones, freeing them up to worry less about the general care for their loved one and focus more on spending time with them in a much more meaningful way.
Many instances of withdrawal are fatal. Even when it is the patient’s decision and they are ready to go, it can still be incredibly challenging for family members. Hospice care includes grief counseling for family members as they deal with the possibility (and often eventuality) of the death of their loved one.
Harbor Light Hospice Offers Hospice Care For Individuals With Serious Illness
Harbor Light Hospice offers hospice care for individuals who have been diagnosed with a serious illness that is terminal, particularly those who do not wish to pursue curative care and would prefer to focus on living the rest of their time as happily as possible surrounded by the ones they love. To learn more about the benefits of hospice care, give us a call today.