When a person is seriously ill, there are lots of options available when it comes to managing care. Many people opt to stay in their own homes as they navigate a terminal illness because they are more comfortable in familiar surroundings where family and friends can freely visit them.
In these cases, hospice care providers can come into the home as needed to provide medical care, assistance with daily activities like bathing and cooking, counseling and spiritual services.
What Falls Under Hospice Care?
Hospice care is generally provided when a patient has six months or less to live. It provides people who are suffering from an illness that cannot be cured with pain management, psychosocial support, symptom control and spiritual care.
It has a focus on caring rather than curing, and it can be carried out in a person’s own home, nursing home or a hospice facility. The aim is to provide the best quality of life possible for people in their final months. It also offers guidance for their loved ones as they make their way through this very challenging time.
A hospice care team will draft a plan that is tailored to a patient’s specific circumstances and the level of help they will be receiving from their family and friends. There are regular check-ins, and a team member is on call around the clock.
Medical Comfortability During Illness
Palliative care can relieve the pain of serious illnesses and help to address symptoms, but the focus is on medical comfortability. This is a major component of hospice care, and hospice professionals are experienced in providing the right medications and devices to bring people physical comfort appropriate to their illness. They will also do their best to make a patient as self-sufficient as possible.
Serious pain as the end of a person’s life approaches can be an unnecessary distraction that prevents them from enjoying time with their loved ones. While pain cannot be entirely avoided in these situations, experts say that most patients should be able to gain sufficient pain relief to bring it down to a more manageable level.
Some patients who experience severe pain from illnesses like cancer will be given pain medication at regular intervals to control chronic pain and prevent more severe instances of pain from arising. Caregivers will monitor their pain levels and ensure that proper doses are being administered to keep them comfortable at all hours.
Hospice care also offers other approaches to providing patients with comfort, such as gentle massage or distracting them from their pain and anxiety with activities such as reading, conversation, meditation or art.
Help With Daily Activities
Hospice workers and volunteers offer a broad range of support to patients as well as their loved ones. They might run errands, prepare light meals or simply spend time with a patient to provide some social interaction and give their primary caregiver a break. They can also lend emotional support and companionship.
As an individual’s terminal illness progresses, they may need assistance with basic tasks such as bathing, dressing, eating and going to the bathroom. Hospice workers are trained to help patients carry out these essential activities safely and with dignity.
Various Forms Of Therapy
There are several types of complementary therapies that can help to increase the comfort and well-being of hospice patients by relieving anxiety and pain while lifting the mood.
Gentle touch therapies such as reflexology, reiki and massage can help address nausea, while acupuncture may be used to lessen pain and anxiety.
Research has shown that music and pet therapy can help patients manage stress and bring about positive emotional responses in people with memory disorders. Other common complementary and alternative therapies that may help patients in this situation include aromatherapy, osteopathic manipulation, yoga, art therapy and deep breathing techniques.
Spiritual guidance is an important component of hospice care for patients and their family members. Most hospices employ a chaplain, who is a non-denominational leader in charge of overseeing a person’s spiritual end-of-life journey. Chaplains can listen to the spiritual needs of everyone involved without judgment and help patients and families across cultures and faiths.
They offer spiritual support such as counseling, listening, reading scripture, singing, coordinating care with a patient’s clergy and providing sacraments that are consistent with a person’s faith.
They can also identify and address signs of spiritual distress, such as questioning the meaning of life, withdrawing from relationships, or expressing anger, depression or fear to give people greater peace of mind.
Work With The Experienced Hospice Care Professionals
No one has to manage a serious disease alone. If you or a loved one are dealing with a life-limiting illness, get in touch with the experienced hospice care professionals at Harbor Light Hospice today to learn how their compassionate services can help with all aspects of care and support during this difficult time.