Do you know someone who was just diagnosed with a terminal illness? If so, you should know that you’re not alone. Studies have shown that more than 40 percent of people have had either a close friend or family member diagnosed with a terminal illness over the last five years. You should also know that there are steps you can take to make your friend or family member’s life as comfortable as possible moving forward. Knowing when it’s time for hospice care is important to help someone who is suffering.
It’s not always easy to put a loved one into a hospice. But it’s often the best thing for their physical and mental well-being.
Let’s learn a little bit more about what hospice care is before looking at the signs that’ll show hospice care is on the horizon for your loved one.
What Is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is a concept that’s still in its infancy compared to many other forms of medical care. The first hospice facility opened in London in 1967, and it took until 1974 for one to open in the U.S.
But since then, hospice care has grown in popularity among many American families. More than 1.5 million people utilize hospice services every year with more than 40 percent of the deaths in the U.S. taking place while a person is taking part in a hospice care program.
So, what exactly is hospice care? Well, unlike the other types of medical care that are out there, hospice care focuses on caring for a person who has a terminal illness as opposed to trying to cure them.
While working with those who are terminally ill, hospice workers focus on providing them with pain management. They also strive to set them up with the emotional and psychological support they need during their final months, weeks, and days.
Additionally, hospice workers are capable of providing the families of those who are terminally ill with support throughout the process. They can show people how to properly care for their loved ones while offering up grief support and counseling services to them.
Hospice care is available at home for those families who don’t wish to put their loved ones into a hospice facility. But in many cases, it becomes too difficult for families to care for their loved ones on their own, which is when a hospice facility can come in handy.
Hospice care is available to those of all ages and has proven to be extremely beneficial to those who take advantage of it. It’s designed to ensure that your close friend or family member is well taken care of towards the end of their life.
10 Signs to Help Determine When It’s Time for Hospice Care
Despite the many benefits that come along with hospice care, there are still some families that are hesitant about using it. They don’t want their terminally ill friends and family members to feel as though they’re giving up on them.
It’s natural for families to feel this way. But that shouldn’t stop you from considering when to put someone in hospice. It could improve their quality of life dramatically and allow them to enjoy the time that they have left rather than suffering.
Check out 10 signs that’ll show you that you need to seriously consider hospice care for your loved one.
1. They’re Almost Always in Pain
There are a lot of terminal illnesses that force people to live with persistent pain.
Terminal conditions like pancreatic cancer, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, and more can make it virtually impossible for people to move around throughout the day. They can also take a toll on a person’s mental health and make them feel miserable just about all the time.
Hospice care can help these people manage their pain more effectively. Hospice workers specialize in figuring out why a person is in pain and showing them what to do to take care of it.
It’s not always possible to eliminate pain with hospice care. But most people can make improvements with their pain within just a few days.
2. Take Regular Trips to the ER or Hospital
Does it seem like your loved one is always checking in and out of the hospital for one reason or another?
You should speak with their doctor about what you can do to prevent some of the issues that are taking place. In some cases, your loved one might not be taking their medications as instructed (more on that later), or they might not be taking good enough care of themselves at home (more on that later, as well).
But either way, you need to do something to prevent your loved one from checking into and out of the hospital all the time. And a hospice care facility might just do the trick.
A good hospice care facility will give your loved one the long-term care they need to manage their terminal illness better. It’ll increase the chances of them staying out of the hospital for long stretches of time.
3. Can’t Take Care of Themselves Anymore
There are a bunch of daily tasks that people need to be able to do to live at home on their own. They must be capable of:
- Using the bathroom
- And more
When your loved one is initially diagnosed with a terminal illness, they might be able to do all these things with ease. But over time, they could start to struggle with one or all of them. And it’ll begin to affect their health.
If, for example, your loved one isn’t bathing on a daily basis anymore, they’ll make themselves more susceptible to certain infections. They’ll also likely suffer from different skin conditions as a result of it.
Hospice care centers can help those with terminal illnesses to take better care of themselves. From eating regular meals to take baths every day, you’ll sleep better at night knowing your loved one isn’t suffering needlessly because they can’t do daily tasks anymore.
4. Forget to Take Medications
Hospice care workers will not recommend new medications for people to try to combat a terminal illness. Your loved one’s primary doctor is in charge of doing that.
However, workers can and will encourage your loved one to take their prescribed medications regularly when watching over them. This will prevent your loved one from forgetting to take their medications and suffering because of it.
Taking medications might seem like a no-brainer to you, especially if those medications are helping keep your loved one alive. But believe it or not, about 50 percent of people with chronic conditions fail to take their medications as prescribed.
You can prevent your loved one from falling into that category by entrusting a hospice care worker to make sure they take their medications. It’ll stop them from suffering any more than they have to.
5. They Slip and Fall
As we mentioned earlier, the pain associated with some terminal illnesses can make it just about impossible for some people to get around. They end up spending entire days in bed or in a chair because their pain won’t allow them to stand up and walk.
The pain can also lead to slips and falls. It can cause injuries to occur and, in some rare instances, it can even lead to death.
If your loved one is over the age of 65, potential slips and falls should already be on your radar. Approximately 40 percent of the fatal injuries involving those over 65 are the result of slips and falls.
But you need to be especially mindful of slips and falls involving people with terminal illnesses. They’re often at an increased risk of falling and hurting themselves due to their pain. A hospice care facility can reduce the risks associated with them moving around.
6. Losing Weight at a Rapid Pace
Have you noticed that your loved one has lost a ton of weight in recent weeks?
It could be due to the medications they’re taking to the terminal illness that is wreaking havoc on their bodies. There is also a chance that they’re not eating enough and losing weight because of that.
Whatever the case, your loved one’s rapid weight loss should concern you. It could cause them to become very weak and make it even more difficult for them to live a somewhat normal life.
By looking into your hospice care options, you can help them maintain a healthy weight. That alone could improve their life by leaps and bounds.
7. Also Losing Their Mental Abilities
Those with a terminal illness will often lose more than just weight. They’ll also start to lose their mental abilities in some cases.
This can, as you might imagine, affect them in all kinds of ways. It will:
- Cause them to become confused at certain times of the day
- Make it even more difficult for them to carry out daily tasks
- Impact their ability to stay on top of their medications
If your loved one appears to be struggling to keep things together mentally, it might not be long before it’s impossible for you to give them the care they need. You’ll need the assistance of a hospice care professional to guide the way.
8. Constantly Dealing With Infections
Seniors are more susceptible to infections than the rest of the population.
Part of it is because many of them suffer from several different health conditions at once. All of those conditions can attack different parts of their bodies and make it difficult for their immune systems to stave off infections.
But part of it is also because many of them don’t take good enough care of their bodies. They don’t bathe themselves properly and don’t move around enough, which leaves them open to infections.
If your loved one is dealing with lots of infections on top of their terminal illness, it’s going to wear their bodies down over time. It’s also going to force them to spend more time in the hospital than they want.
By taking them to a hospice care facility, you can eliminate at least some of the risk of infections setting in and allow them to stay a little bit healthier.
9. Struggling to Sleep
Older adults should be getting anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep every night. But some studies have suggested that up to 50 percent of them struggle to sleep at night.
Has your loved one told you that they can’t sleep well anymore? It could be a result of their constant. There are some medications that can also cause insomnia.
When you place them into hospice care, someone will work with them to figure out why they struggle to sleep so much. A hospice worker will contact their primary doctor and come up with a solution to this problem.
10. Living With a Very Low Quality of Life
It’s often hard for those living with a terminal illness to find joy in life. Amongst all the problems that the terminal illness causes and the grim outlook for their future, people have a tough time seeing the positives day in and day out.
If your loved one doesn’t ever seem happy, hospice care might be able to change their outlook on life. It’ll remove some of the pain they’re feeling and give them the comfort they crave. And it could very well restore their quality of life and make them feel alive again for the first time in a long time.
Understanding When to Put Someone in Hospice Is Important
The idea of hospice care might seem scary, both to you and to your loved one. Initially, it might feel like you and your loved one are both giving in to the harsh reality that comes along with having a terminal disease.
But look at it another way. Hospice care can actually give your loved one their life back in many ways and let them enjoy life while they still can. And when you put it like that, it doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
You need to understand when it’s time for hospice and make the decision to do it before it’s too late.
Superior Home Health and Hospice offers a complimentary consultation with an advisor to help you determine your loved one’s home health & hospice needs. To schedule your free consultation, call 805.742.4514 or contact us online.