This week, I am discussing hospice care. I’ve talked about what it is and isn’t and what it does and does not do. In addition, yesterday, I discussed some of the myths and misconceptions of hospice care. Today, I’ll discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing hospice care.
First the advantages:
I think one of the biggest advantages of utilizing hospice is that it means that the patient and family are coming to grips with the reality that they are dealing with a “terminal illness.” As stated in another post, it doesn’t mean that life will end tomorrow or the next day, but choosing to enter hospice means that there is a realization that you are no longer actively attempting to cure the disease. Instead you are attempting to provide quality unconditional comfort and support to the patient and his or her family. Which leads me to the second advantage.
Hospice is one of the only insurance benefits that specifically addresses the needs of the patient AND the patient’s family.
Hospice care addresses the needs of the whole person. It responds to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of the individual. Hospice personnel have been known to help mend broken relationships and listen to a myriad of secrets and “confessions.”
Hospice utilizes the team approach to care. Every hospice patient and family has a doctor, nurse, social worker, chaplain and possibly a volunteer as well. So, there is a constant evaluation of the patient and his or her needs at any given time.
Hospice employees and volunteers are specialists. They understand the issues related to providing the best quality of life possible. They may understand various stages such as refusing food, withdrawing, etc. a little more than other medical professionals.
In many cases, the patient can remain at home surrounded by family and friends.
Hospice is a much less alternative to staying in a hospital or long term care facility.
And now for the disadvantages:
The first disadvantage goes along with the first advantage. The realization of the inevitable. Sometimes patients are just not ready to accept the fact that they are “eligible” for hospice care. In some cases, admittance into hospice prior to the patient being “ready” may lead to down spirits, depression and a defeated attitude.
Because of the complete nature of hospice care, the home is “invaded” as it were by caring specialists. If a patient or a family is extremely private, it can take some getting used to to have consistent visits from the hospice team.
“Outsiders” who are not educated regarding hospice may believe that the end is closer than it really is because of the myths and misconceptions surrounding hospice.
Depending on the configuration of your home, it may be difficult/cumbersome to have a set up that is comfortable. So, you’ll have to consider if you have space (if needed) for a hospital bed and other equipment.
In my humble opinion, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. More than anything, it’s a mindset. Again, it is a personal decision and one that will have impact long after your loved one is gone. I chose hospice for my mom. However, because I had not PLANNED or thought about it in advance, it was very difficult because I was not informed and I was afraid of the myths and misconceptions. I even had well-meaning medical personnel attempting to provide “comfort” that, as we discussed yesterday could have actually made my mother more uncomfortable.
That’s why, it is so important to read, research and even talk with patients who are utilizing hospice care and their families prior to making a decision. Maybe, the question isn’t whether or not you go with hospice (although, I think its a good choice), but whether or not you have carefully considered it as an option.
So, friend, as you battle Alzheimer’s disease, consider an option that will provide support and comfort for yourself and your loved one.
(Thanks again to the crew at Trinity Hospice – Pittsburgh. Not only did they provide awesome care for my mom, they continue to support me!)
Tomorrow – A Recipe For Life!
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