Nearly 30% of hospice patients in 2017 received hospice care for only a week in, and 50% received hospice care for 25 days or less 1. The unfortunate reality is that a few days of hospice care is not enough to provide those who are terminally ill the end of life care they need and deserve. Much of this is due to family members perceiving hospice as a last resort.
Choosing hospice doesn’t mean you are giving up on your life or the life of your loved one. Instead, it means choosing a life outside of doctor’s appointments and hospital rooms. With pain management, hospice patients can take their focus off of their illness and place it back on what matters to them such as family and friends. When a patient is placed on hospice care sooner rather than later, he may also be able to travel to places he’s always wanted to see or do something he’s always wanted to do with the time he has left. In fact, a study conducted by ScienceDirect concluded that patients who choose hospice are far less likely to have regrets than those who continue to face treatment decisions.
A common misconception is that hospice care only benefits the hospice patient. In reality, hospice care is just as beneficial to immediate family members as it is to their loved one. Respite care included in many hospice programs allows family caretakers a break when they’re feeling overwhelmed and need to step out. Additionally, with psychological and/or spiritual guidance from certified counselors and social workers, family members of hospice patients have a safe space to express their feelings and concerns prior to the death of the loved one as well as afterwards.
Although it may be difficult accepting that medical treatment is no longer working, choosing hospice care is far from giving up. Instead, hospice care allows the patient to look forward to a more comfortable, and higher quality end-of-life experience, and gives family members the chance to process the circumstances and spend quality time with their loved one before they pass.