Creating a Hospice and End-of-Life Plan for Your Dying Loved One
When people think of hospice care, their loved one’s mortality almost immediately comes to mind.
Hospice is typically reserved for those who are nearing the end of their life, and it should be viewed as an opportunity to provide comfort, discuss their final wishes, and to say goodbye.
There is no one-size-fits-all method for creating a hospice care plan, but understanding the process is a good first step.
Here are some things you should know.
Hospice Care Involves Many People
When the time arrives for hospice care, it’s important to understand that you are not alone. Your hospice care team will be comprised of many people who are experienced in how to provide compassionate care for the patient and support for the family.
Your loved one’s care team will consist of a physician, hospice nurses, and other support personnel. The nurses will have many tasks, including administering medication and helping to quell anxiety relating to your loved one’s condition and passing away.
One key individual you will get to know throughout the process is a hospice social worker. They are fully qualified to counsel everyone involved in the dying process. They also serve to support and advocate for the patient’s rights and wishes.
Getting to know this individual, as well as their qualifications, will help you and your loved one understand why they are there and in what ways they can help.
End-of-Life Conversations Can’t Wait
Your social worker can also help you open up the conversation with your loved one about how they want their death handled.
Having this conversation can help you be more prepared for the emotional and financial aspects related to your loved one’s passing.
These end-of-life conversations will be emotional. Your loved one may not want to think about their own mortality, and they may be in denial that their health has deteriorated to the point where death is an immediate concern.
If you cannot get them to discuss the emotional aspect of funeral planning, they may be receptive to talking about more practical matters, especially if they previously served as a caregiver for your family.
With the average funeral costing as much as a used car — between $7,000 and $12,000 in most cases — they may be more able to look at funeral planning as one last way they can care for the ones they love by making decisions that will reduce the financial burden.
Your loved one may be eligible for burial insurance; if so, this may be a motivator for them to open up about these decisions.
Hospice Does Not Equal Hopeless
There is no denying that hospice care almost always means death, and often within just a few months. But this does not mean that your loved one has to give up hope; instead, they can redefine their expectations and focus on quality instead of longevity.
Very well Health explains that hospice care will help your loved one live pain-free so that they can do the things they want, such as spending time with their family or taking one last family vacation. Being in hospice care is also no guarantee of death.
Although not the typical outcome, it is not unheard of for hospice care to improve the patient’s condition to the point their life expectancy is extended. Instead of standard hospice care, some people need palliative care.
In this model of care, the patient is treated with the same compassion, but may be much further from end-of-life than someone receiving hospice treatment. Palliative care patients may transition out of care once treatment for a disease or condition has ended and then re-enter hospice care once quality of life needs must be addressed toward the end.
Nobody likes to think about death, and hospice care only brings this possibility that much closer to reality.
Your loved one’s hospice care team can help you and your entire family understand and embrace the process.
Most importantly, hospice can ease your loved one’s suffering. Regardless of the outcome, eliminating pain will help them live their best life until the very end.