For anyone facing a terminal illness, making decisions about end-of-life care is an extremely difficult process that not only affects the patient’s comfort and wellbeing, but that of their family and friends as well. Hospice is there to help you embrace the end of life process by focusing on the quality of life. Here are a few warning signs to help you make an educated choice on whether hospice care might be necessary.
- Frequent Trips to the Emergency Room: When you’re spending most of your time in the hospital, it could be a sign that the burden of your care is outweighing its benefits.
- Frequent Pain That’s Difficult to Treat: Hospice care begins with palliative care designed to decrease your pain and improve your quality of life. If you can no longer manage your pain with normal treatments, it might be time to consider going into hospice.
- Frequent Infections: Infections are a sign that your immune system is no longer able to cope with the demands being placed on it. Severe infections can also be fatal, so it might be a good idea to start thinking about end-of-life care.
- Sudden Decrease in Appetite: When you don’t have the desire to eat anymore, it could be a sign that your body is getting ready to shut down, so you may want to focus on your comfort and give your family a chance to spend time with you.
- Dramatic Weight Loss: This may come as a result of your decreased appetite.
- Difficulty Breathing: Shallow, raspy, or gasping breathing can all be signs that something is wrong, so it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about palliative and hospice care.
- Sleeping Longer and More Frequently: If you used to be full of energy, frequent and longer sleep patterns might mean that a big change is happening in your body.
- Inability to Perform Daily Tasks: When you have problems doing daily tasks like preparing meals, getting dressed, or even going to the bathroom, it could be a sign that your medical treatment is no longer effective.
- Confusion or Declining Mental Function: Patients in need of palliative or hospice care often exhibit a sudden decrease in mental functionality that can leave them confused and irritable.
- Your Doctor Says You Have Less Than Six Months to Live: The decision to go into palliative or hospice care is one made between the patient, the family, the doctor and a palliative or hospice care specialist. Although it may be difficult to accept, if your medical team recommends you start the hospice process, you should listen. Remember that not all patients who enter start hospice care die; in some cases, the palliative care that comes before hospice is enough to help the patient recover.
Making decisions regarding hospice care is difficult and there are a lot of emotions involved both for the patient and their family. It’s important to remember that knowing signs and symptoms like the ones listed above can be a great comfort to families dealing with these issues, so don’t be afraid to educate yourself about hospice. For more information, visit our contact page.