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How Terminally Ill Seniors Benefit From Hospice Care

 
Unfortunate but true, hospice care is often under-used by the majority of terminally ill patients.  Even though it is a difficult to discussion to have, accepting the terminal illness of your senior loved one is the first step toward providing them with the compassionate and supportive care they deserve.
Hospice care can be provided in the home or in a long-term care facility, depending on your wishes or those of your loved one.  The primary objective of hospice care is to provide support, comfort and the highest possible quality of life in the final days, months or years of a patient’s life.

Discuss and Communicate

During this difficult time it is important to maintain open and honest communication.  Explore your options.  Discuss your elderly loved one’s condition with your family physician and close relatives in order to gain some acknowledgement and understanding of what forms of care are available and recommended.  Once you begin hospice care, part of the service you receive will include the facilitation of difficult, but necessary discussions.

Maximizing Comfort and Reducing Pain

If you or your elderly loved one is suffering from a terminal illness such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, or advanced dementia, hospice care – provided by a team of health care professionals – aims to make you as comfortable as possible by reducing your pain.  The focus is to eliminate physical discomfort associated with the illness or disease, in order to achieve a sense of peaceful comfort in the patient.  It is important to understand that this focus on the dissolution of pain is palliative, not curative.

Addressing Physical, Mental, Social and Spiritual Needs

Terminal illness can have a profound effect on our physical body, our psychological frame of mind, our social life and our spiritual tendencies.  Hospice care is not only about controlling the physical effects of a disease, but also about encompassing those other aspects of the patient’s life and the lives of his or her family members.  In this sense, hospice care is more of a concept and a lifestyle, rather than merely a health care service.
Concerns, fears, triumphs and breakthroughs are addressed in a caring and supportive manner.  Both patient and all family members are given the opportunity to discuss their thoughts and express their feelings with hospice professionals who are there to help.

How Hospice Care is Provided

Hospice care is personal, and can usually be specialized to suit your individual needs or those of your family.  The terminally ill senior has the choice to receive hospice care in their home, or in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Among the many services hospice care provides, some of the most common are:
  • Regular visits from a physician and nurse 
  • Explanations of all phases of the illness and how they will affect the senior and their loved ones
  • Help obtaining the necessary medical equipment as well as assistance with activities of daily living
  • Counseling (physical, nutritional, spiritual, and social for the patient and family members)
  • Physiotherapy, rehabilitation and massage
  • Pain management
  • Respite care for family caregivers

End of Life Dignity

For a terminally ill senior patient, there is no better gift than to enable him or her to die with dignity.  Life-limiting diseases are trying on our systems and can make our last days on Earth much more difficult than they need to be.  By pursuing hospice care, pain can be greatly minimized, the mind can be put at ease, and death can come peacefully in the presence of loved ones and caring professionals.
For more information about hospice care in the United States, visit: www.hospicepatients.org.
For more information about hospice and palliative care in Canada, visit: www.chpca.net.
 
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