If your loved one has a life-limiting disease, it is important that the doctor has a discussion with you to ensure that you understand the difference between palliative care and hospice care.
The Difference Between Palliative and Hospice Care
The focal point of palliative care is relieving the symptoms that your loved one experiences as a result of the health condition, including constipation, nausea and pain. At the same time, the doctor will continue to provide treatment as the various phases of the disease progress. In addition to this focus, hospice care is meant for terminally ill individuals who will not have success with curative treatments over the remaining six months of their lives, assuming that the disease runs its course.
How Doctors View Hospice Care
Physicians are trained to communicate with patients, but they can sometimes become uncomfortable when they treat patients for incurable diseases. Like the patients they treat, physicians are human and can find it hard to give their patients bad news. They might feel like they have failed when their prescribed treatments do not deliver positive results. Doctors work in a healing profession, and suggesting hospice care could go against their training and instincts as healers.
However, more doctors are realizing that hospice institutions can care for individuals and offer them comfort when the physicians have done all that they can with treatments. As a caregiver, you should not hesitate to ask about the doctor’s view on hospice care.
Leave No Stone Unturned
When you talk with the doctor about treatment for the life-limiting disease of your loved one, consider taking these measures:
- Learn as much as possible about the disease in question, including how it is diagnosed and treate and how it progresses. This will allow you to make the most out of your conversation with the physician. Caregivers and patients might be unable to control the health condition, but they can control the care that is provided.
- Take a relative or friend to the doctor with you. It might be overwhelming and difficult to absorb medical information, so having another person there just to listen or to take notes is helpful.
- Do not feel like you have to rush to end an appointment. Ask the physician, nurses and other health professionals to give you full explanations to your questions, recommend further resources and tell you why they recommend certain things.
- Remember that discussing hospice care does not mean that you have giving up on your loved one. It only means that you are learning about and planning for the options that are available. Do not be afraid to tell the doctor this because many of them are relieved when caregivers or patients ask questions.
- Remember that the treatments that your loved one receives also affect you. Bring the facts of what this means to the doctor’s attention.