Sometimes providing the best care possible to keep loved ones comfortable and pain-free during the last days, months or years of life may mean seeking support from a larger care team through hospice.
Focused on care and comfort — and not necessarily cure — hospice includes doctors, nurses, aides, social workers, spiritual counselors and therapists who work together to help minimize pain and symptoms so that people can live comfortably as life draws to a close.
So when is the right time to seek hospice care? The answers will vary on a case-by-case basis, so it is a good idea to discuss this question with the person’s doctor and health care team.
Dr. Margaret Elizondo, a hospice and palliative care expert affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital, provides some guidance when making this important decision. Some common indicators that a person may be suitable for hospice include:
- Increase in symptoms that do not respond well to traditional treatment
- Continual medical setbacks
- Decrease in appetite or weight loss
- Frequent trips to the emergency room or hospital to manage symptoms
- Increase in stress and burden due to declining health of a loved one
- Physical and/or emotional exhaustion from caring for a loved one
- Feeling isolated due to the demands or uncertainties of caregiving
- Feeling overwhelmed with the financial, emotional or spiritual concerns surrounding the loved one’s illness
Hospice may be a path toward providing comprehensive, compassionate care so that the moments in life for loved ones are as comfortable and meaningful as possible.