Advantages and Disadvantages of Hospice Care

May 14, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

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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:

Advantage One
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.

Advantage Two
Hospice is one of the only insurance benefits that specifically addresses the needs of the patient AND the patient’s family.

Advantage Three
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.”

Advantage Four
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.

Advantage Five

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.

Advantage six
In many cases, the patient can remain at home surrounded by family and friends.

Advantage Seven
ospice is a much less alternative to staying in a hospital or long term care facility.

And now for the disadvantages:

Disadvantage One
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.

Disadvantage Two
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.

Disadvantage Three
“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.

Disadvantage Four
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!)

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3 Responses to “Advantages and Disadvantages of Hospice Care”
  1. Education is extremely important in this process of finding a workable comfortable setting for a loved one who is diagnosed as needing hospice or palliative care. I certainly agree with Loretta that you should do your homework and interview the various facilities that are available to you.

    The more information you can get the more informed your choice will be.

    Looking at care in your home may have a huge impact on your family both financial and time commitments as you are literally on call 24 hours a day. Our society generally is not set up to support long term care of a parent in their home or yours. Although it can be done and is done be prepared for this huge level of commitment and extra work.

    Everyone’s circumstances are different and you have to weigh the benefits of each option. This is a difficult time in life but open discussions with family and care givers will help you make the best possible choice.

  2. Jean says:

    very helpful information. Thank you.

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