Many people have experienced the death of an older relative. They may have seen their relative receiving hospice care during the last few weeks of their life and been grateful for the comfort it provides.
It is a common assumption that palliative care is only used in the last few weeks or days of a person’s life. In fact, it can be used for long periods to bring comfort to someone who is in the last stage of their life. Patients with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease may require hospice care for a long period and greatly benefit from the services it provides.
How many Americans use palliative care?
According to statistics from John Hopkins Medicine, more than 1.65 million Americans received hospice care in 2011. An estimated 44.6% of all deaths occur while the person is under the care of a hospice program.
Jon Radulovic, the vice president of National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, says that most patients only receive hospice services for less than a week before passing away. In many cases, hospice care is delayed because the patient and their family does not realize the services are available.
Families often assume that hospice care is the final step before their loved one passes away. In reality, hospice care can be obtained well before a loved one’s passing.
There is some evidence to suggest that hospice care actually extends the life of a patient. One 2007 study showed that the mean survival rate of patients who obtained palliative care was 29 days longer than those who did not. A 2010 study found that cancer patients who received hospice care lived 2.7 months longer than those receiving standard care. Other studies have also found that the earlier a patient is referred to hospice care, the better their prognosis is.
Families obtaining hospice care for a loved one aren’t “giving up” — they are improving the quality of life of their loved one and potentially extending their lifespan.
The services that palliative care includes
The services provided during hospice care has increased in recent years. Hospice care doesn’t just focus on making the patient more comfortable, it helps them to enjoy the best quality of life possible.
Hospice care providers use pain management specialists, doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, symptom control specialists, and in-home caregivers. Their goal is to provide the emotional, physical and spiritual support that the patient needs.
Each client has different requirements, so palliative care providers must mix and match services to deliver a personalized care plan.
Knowing when it is time for hospice care
Doctors can sometimes be reluctant to advise a family to obtain hospice care for a terminally ill loved one. Some doctors may not be aware of the research showing improved outcomes for patients.
If you want your doctor’s honest opinion, ask them if your loved one is at risk of dying within the next 6 months. If they say yes, then it may be time for palliative care. Medicare will provide funds for palliative care if a doctor has said their life expectancy is less than 6 months.
If your loved one is reluctant to receive hospice care, make sure they understand that this form of care is about improving their comfort levels. Help them understand that hospice care may help them live longer. Make sure all family members know that hospice care can greatly improve the quality of life a person experiences before they pass away.
How All Heart Home Care can help
All Heart Home Care is the leading provider of Non-Medical Home Care services in San Diego. We provide around-the-clock hospice care and palliative care to dozens of patients. Our services are available in any location including the patient’s home, a family member’s home, in senior living facilities or a nursing home. The services our caregivers provide include:
Our caregivers are directed by trained medical professionals and understand how to greatly improve a client’s quality of life during hospice. They are compassionate and able to give your loved one the care they deserve.
If you or a loved one is in need of home care support, contact All Heart Home Care at (619) SENIORS. We offer free in-home consultations and we would love to explain the many benefits of using All Heart Home Care’s services!