How Hospice Affects Loved Ones and How We Can Help
Some of the worst words for anyone to hear from a doctor are, “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your loved one has less than 6 months left to live.”
It is always devastating to get the news that a loved one is going to die regardless what measures are taken. We know we will all inevitably die, but when an actual timeline is given to us, it becomes “real” and it is even more overwhelming. It is very difficult to accept the fact that all we can do now is try to make things more comfortable for everyone involved. Of course, this is hard on the patient him- or herself, but it also places a “caregiver burden” on the family members and friends who will be taking care of the patient.
When someone is seeking hospice and palliative care, it is woefully understood that the goal is to focus on the comfort and happiness of the patient, not to expand the lifespan. It is understood that there is no further cure or treatment for the illness, and improving the quality of life for the dying individual is the primary challenge.
Pain relief and psychological care are important, but more factors come into play when dealing with a situation like this. A healthy, more positive support group makes it easier for everyone involved, so if you are a caregiver, you must remember to take care of your own well-being, too.
Research suggests that if a patient dies in a “good” setting, it will make the grieving process easier for those around him or her. The Institute of Medicine defines “a good death” as “free from avoidable distress and suffering for patients, families, and caregivers; in general accord with patients’ and families’ wishes; and reasonably consistent with clinical, cultural, and ethical standards.” Most hospice services are at-home services, which makes sense because most people indicate they want to pass away at home as opposed to a hospital.
Painless, anticipated, and non-burdensome deaths improve the spirits of family and friends. People are more at ease knowing that their loved one is comfortable even though he or she is terminally ill. This also helps reduce patients’ spouses’ anxiety about “widow/er effect,” which is the theory that people who lose a spouse have a significantly higher chance of dying soon themselves. Understanding that hospice and palliative care is not “giving up” or “surrendering” is also crucial to coping with the situation.
The goal of hospice and palliative care centers around making the weeks and months before death as meaningful and valuable as possible. Depression and sadness are typically present in every patient’s case, and science has suggested that many people have a lower pain threshold if they are experiencing negative emotions. If patients are feeling that life is meaningless, symptoms tend to be more present. Working towards getting the patient in a more accepting, at-ease mindset will help those around him or her feel better, too.
Family members and friends must also take time to learn how to best deal with the patient and their illness. Being lost, hopeless, and confused can lead to more tension and anger regarding the situation. This is obviously not good for anyone, and can make the patient feel more like a burden. Research shows that most people in a situation like this fear a “bad death,” not death itself, so alleviating those fears can work towards less stress and more clear, logical decisions.
Knowing that a deceased relative or friend was well-taken care of before his or her death makes the heartbreak easier, and here at Good Health Hospice and Palliative Care, we can do our best to make that happen.
We are here to make sure the patient receives the best care. We have many full-time medical professionals staffed, which include medical doctors, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed vocational nurses, certified home health nurses and social workers. You can also keep your doctor and add him or her to your care team. We are here for you 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Our three categories of care are “taking care,” “enriched care,” and “vital care.” Our team works to reduce pain, coordinate care, allow respite care so the family members can have a break, have serious talks with family members, and help the bereavement process when an individual does pass away.
Here at Good Health Hospice and Palliative Care, we do all of the coordinating so you don’t have to. We set up the home visits when you request them, and we always ensure that your entire hospice team knows what is going on. We are available at all times to arrange whatever you need, whether that is a pharmacist or a clergy member.
Sometimes, all you need is a friend. Our staff is ready to provide companionship for you and your ill loved one anytime. We can also assist in meal preparation and basic cleaning and housekeeping so you and your loved one will not have to deal with it. Personal care, respite care, and care for those with special needs, Alzheimer’s, and dementia are also available through us.
We believe that communication is one key to dealing with an ill loved one. We strive to have as many family meetings as needed to help family and friends understand the patient’s needs and the care he or she is receiving. We can also assist you in deciding how to go about “serious” conversations with the patient, including conversations about finances and other things that will have to be taken care of after death.
We understand that every family’s spiritual beliefs differ, and we will gear our assistance to fit your needs throughout the entire process, from the time your loved one becomes ill to the day it becomes necessary to say goodbye and go through the grieving process. We will work to make sure you find hope in whatever your situation may be.
We aim to make the end-of-life experience easier on your family and the patient. We know that end-of-life care and the tasks afterwards are costly, therefore we accept all insurance.
Good Heart Hospice & Palliative Care serves greater Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange County. Our service area includes Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Rancho Cucamonga, Lancaster, San Gabriel, Downey and many other cities in Southern California. Call us for a free consultation and learn how hospice and palliative care can help you and your loved ones.