A study that was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that more people are choosing to spend their last days of life at home, as home deaths outpaced hospital deaths for the first time in more than 50 years.
This trend is being largely attributed to the growth in home hospice care, which offers terminally ill patients essential services such as pain management, emotional support and other care at home as they approach the end of their lives.
Top Reasons People Choose Hospice Care
Many terminally ill patients choose hospice care in their home to supplement the support they are receiving from a family caregiver. The main reason patients choose to get hospice care is a desire to stay at home with their loved ones and pass their time in a familiar and comfortable space while still getting expert help with the challenges they face during this phase. One of the basic principles of hospice care is respecting patients’ wishes and those of their families at all times.
This type of care offers regular visits as well as guidance and education on treatment and administering medications. Nurses and aides may visit throughout the week to offer medical and personal care, while social workers stay in touch with the family to make sure the proper support and resources are in place. Chaplains are on hand to address spiritual concerns, and volunteers can visit to provide companionship and allow family members a break.
Here is a look at some of the top reasons that people choose to get hospice care in their home instead of spending their final days in a hospital.
Comfort In Their Home During Their Final Days
Many people find hospital environments to be very stressful, cold and impersonal. Hospice care can be given in the home, where people will be in familiar surroundings and have all the comforts of home at their fingertips without the burden of having to deal with daily tasks they can no longer manage alone.
Home health aides can assist with all manner of daily activities, including cooking and feeding, light housekeeping, personal grooming and other tasks that patients are too ill to carry out without assistance.
Pain Management & Care
People who choose to spend their final days at home do not need to suffer just because they are not in a hospital. Hospice can address pain and minimize discomfort by offering pain medications and alternative therapies that help take the edge off of pain, such as massage therapy.
Although hospice programs do not usually employ life-prolonging treatments, hospice workers are trained to manage and correct the symptoms that can make the end of a person’s life painful or upsetting. Moreover, the in-home care from a hospice team can provide people with a greater level of monitoring and attention than they would get in a hospital.
Support For Family Caregivers
Caring for an ill loved one can take a significant toll on family members. Hospice care takes this into account, offering caregivers services such as grief counseling, bereavement services and spiritual support. Hospice counselors are trained in the issues that arise as families prepare for the end of a loved one’s life, and age-appropriate counseling is also available.
Hospice services can also provide respite care that allows caregivers to take some time for themselves and avoid the burnout that can come with caring for terminally ill loved ones while balancing work and family commitments. Although caregivers sometimes feel guilty about seeking respite care, it is important to keep in mind that a rested caregiver is better able to help their loved one.
Allows For Better Privacy
Getting hospice care at home enables patients to enjoy better privacy in their own space, where they can move about freely if their condition allows or simply enjoy the comfort of their bedroom if mobility is limited.
The end of one’s life can be a time of very delicate conversations, and many people appreciate the privacy that being at home can provide. Hospice care at home also means that people can have visitors any time they feel up for it rather than being stuck to a fixed schedule of visiting hours in the hospital. This can also make it easier for loved ones to visit and speak freely about any topics that they wish to address.
Contact The Hospice Care Professionals
If you or a loved one is facing a life-limiting illness, get in touch with the hospice care professionals at Harbor Light Hospice to learn how their compassionate patient care can provide much-needed support to patients and their families. The Harbor Light Hospice team can advise on the best time to start hospice and other aspects of care to help you make the best decision for your family.