When Should Hospice Care Begin? Knowing When It’s Time To Take the Next Step

A person wearing scrubs holds the hand of a person seated in a rocking chair.

We all hope that we will have plenty of time to spend with our loved ones, however, illnesses and other circumstances can shorten that time frame. The last months of a loved one’s life can be a difficult time for family, friends, and the individual experiencing the journey.

While medical care can extend our lifespan, in certain instances, there’s nothing that can be done to lengthen that time and we must come to accept that the end is near.

This is when hospice care should be considered. The focus will shift from trying to cure the individual to trying to make them as comfortable as possible as they endure the remaining days of their life.

While it can be hard to know exactly when to start hospice care, the team at San Jose Health Care would like to share a few guidelines to help.

When Should Hospice Care Begin? 

Hospice care isn’t just for the last few days or weeks of an individual’s life. Getting hospice care early on can help your loved one spend their last months comfortably and well cared for.

The best time to start hospice care is once your loved one is suffering without a real chance of an improved quality of life. Some individuals may also opt for hospice care over continuing a treatment they feel is futile.

When Should You Switch to Hospice? 

Depending on the circumstances and illnesses attributing to the terminal condition, pain may be greatly felt by the sufferer. Many individuals at the end of their lives will experience difficulty doing basic tasks or their bodies will begin to shut down in various ways that make daily activities extremely challenging to handle.

If your loved one is still capable of making informed decisions about their well-being, you should ask their opinion on what they would like to do regarding their terminal condition. However, if they can’t express their desires and you never discussed them before, here are the signs you may want to switch to hospice care:

  • uncontrollable pain
  • confusion
  • frequent infections or hospitalizations
  • difficulty with self-care they could do before
  • spending most of the day asleep
  • rapid weight loss or a loss in appetite

How To Discuss Hospice Care With Your Loved One

The best time to discuss hospice care is while your loved one is still capable of making an informed decision. If the time has passed, you should still try to explain hospice care to your loved one.

Make sure you do your research first so you can answer any questions they may have.

Remember that hospice care can be offered without needing to move your loved one away from where they currently live. A familiar setting can be a great comfort even if the patient’s mental faculties are fading.

Hospice care focuses on quality of life rather than quantity. Keep this in mind so you can reassure your loved one that they won’t be left to suffer alone.

What Happens After Hospice Care Begins?

Hospice care looks a bit different than curative care as the priority switches towards making the patient as comfortable as possible. When deciding to go with hospice care for a loved one (or if the individual decides themselves), they’ll have access to everything from spiritual support to help with physical care needs like hygiene.

If your loved one is staying in their home, they’ll be able to obtain services there as well. If your loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, the care workers will help you adjust the space to keep your loved one safe and comfortable. You can discuss what is needed as conditions change.

During these final moments, you can also obtain grief support for your family so you can better adjust to the situation and begin the process of healing as you await the final moment.

Choosing the Right Hospice Service for Your Loved One

Once you’ve made the decision to begin hospice care, you will need to find a service to provide that care. You’ll need to decide based on what will work best for you and your loved one.

If you want to keep them in the comfort of your own home, San Jose Hospice Care can provide exceptional services. We offer a wide range of services that let us meet your needs during this difficult time. Contact us today to discuss your options.

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