Hospice Care – a Life-changing Decision
By: Holly Carell
As a caregiver to a terminally ill loved one, one of the hardest decisions you may ever need to make is regarding hospice care. It’s an extremely difficult decision to make but once you realize that medical treatment has gone as far as it can it’s time for the patient to be in a place
where there is warmth and caring and they can spend quality private
time together with their loved ones.
Hospice is not a place; it’s a concept about the quality of life as it
nears its end for the patients and their families and friends. Even
when medicine cannot provide a cure, it can offer comfort, care and
assistance that can help maintain a better quality of life for the
patient. Hospice care
is based on the belief that through sensitive, appropriate care and the
support of a caring community, terminally ill patients and their
families can begin to prepare to face the inevitable challenges ahead.
This type of attention, also called palliative care, involves the
aggressive treatment of physical and emotional pain and symptoms. It
focuses on enhancing a patient’s comfort and improving quality of life
for all those involved. An acceptable hospice care program can even be
provided at the patient’s home. It is built around the idea that
quality of life and a person’s dignity are essential. The family is
extensively involved in the caring and the emphasis is on life. Hospice
care enables a patient to manage pain and other symptoms so that they
can be as comfortable as possible.
Another main decision to make is who will be the primary caregiver for
the patient. If it is a family member or members then the hospice care
program should offer a respite so that the caregivers can take much
needed rest at intervals while not worrying about how the patient is
doing. The hospice care program should set up the equipment the patient
needs and train the caregiver to administer any medication.
If a skilled nurse is required, this service may be offered by the
hospice care program depending on the kind of treatment the patient is
A recent study showed that hospice care patients were significantly
more pleased with the care they received and hospice care patients'
caregivers showed more satisfaction and less anxiety
than did those in traditional medical care. Hospice care patients also
experienced significantly less depression throughout the process.
Do your research and make an informed decision about hospice care
for your loved one and take into account the patient’s own wishes.
Ensure that all family members are involved in the decision and that
everyone understands who the caregivers are and when each is
responsible for care. You can provide the patient with a great deal of
comfort when making this decision based on physical, emotional, and
Holly Carell is a Registered Nurse, specializing in in-home hospice care
for terminally ill patients and their families. Since 1996 she has been
helping to improve the quality of life for patients facing terminal
diagnoses and to provide support for their loved ones.