How to Prepare a Loved One for Hospice

Preparing a loved one for hospice care can be an emotional and challenging experience for everyone involved in this important decision. However, there are several steps you can take to help ensure the transition is easier for the patient and you as a caregiver. Read on to learn more about these helpful steps as you venture into this journey with your loved one:

1. Have Open, Honest Conversations from The Beginning

The first step in preparing your loved one for hospice care is to have honest and open conversations about their end of life wishes, listen to their concerns, and engage in meeting their expectations. End-of-life discussions can be uncomfortable, but it is essential to ensure their needs are met and respected. It is understandable for you to avoid bringing up the topic of the end, but neglecting this topic is like ignoring the elephant in the room. Consequently, helping your loved one find the best hospice care starts with having open and honest conversations about what they do and don’t want to happen.

2. Understand There is a Difference Between Palliative Care and Hospice

The next step to take when preparing a loved one for hospice is to understand the difference between hospice care, like we offer at Doctor’s Choice Hospice, and palliative care. While the two types of care do overlap some, as they both provide symptom relief for those with serious illness, and offer pain management and comfort care, hospice is mostly focused on patients who have less than six months to live. It is also typically provided in a home setting (though not always) and is not intended to be curative. Palliative care is often provided in a clinical setting and usually has a curative intent. It is also applicable for any stage of a disease, not just care towards the end.

3. Know that There are Four Levels of Hospice

When your loved one enters hospice, it’s helpful to understand that there are several levels of care they can expect to be offered. The following breaks these down in more detail:

  • Routine Care: Usually provided in a patient’s home, this is the most common level of hospice care. It includes pain and symptom management and typically takes place in the home.
  • General Inpatient Care: This is short-term crisis-level management of specific out-of-control symptoms or pain. It can be provided outside the home in a medical facility or a skilled nursing facility.
  • Continuous Care: This is also crisis-level short-term care, but it typically takes place in the patient’s home. It addresses out-of-control pain and/or symptoms.
  • Respite Care: This is temporary care for the patient provided in a facility or nursing home that gives family members who are serving as caregivers a much-needed break.

4. Choose a Hospice Company

The next step you need to take to help your loved one prepare for hospice care is to help them choose the best company. To make the best choice, speak with each potential hospice company and learn about their experience. Ask how long they have been serving in your area and get reviews and testimonials, if possible, about their past work. Of course, finding a hospice company that is covered by their insurance is also immensely important.

5. Prepare Their Space

Do your best to set up a space for your loved one that will be comforting, calming and inviting within their home. This includes removing clutter and ensuring the lights are soft and not overly harsh. Ask your loved one if they would prefer having privacy and would like to be tucked away in a side room or if they would instead prefer to be in the midst of the action in common living areas. Of course, it’s also important to speak with your loved one’s doctor and nurses to see what kind of set-up the patient will need. If they are going to require a potty chair, hospital bed, or oxygen, you might be somewhat limited in where they can be in the home. No matter where you choose, though, ensure that you include beloved heirlooms in the space as well as encouraging quotes and pictures of loved ones to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

6. Gather Important Paperwork

At the end of life, many people have already made final arrangements and even prepaid for funerals and other services. Make sure you know where all your loved one’s important paperwork is now before they are unable to communicate with you. Learn their final wishes, what company their life insurance is through (if applicable), know how to contact their bank and access their accounts, etc. Of course, this is a difficult conversation to have, but gathering all this information in one place will make the process of fulfilling your loved one’s final wishes that much easier in the long-run.

7. Ensure Communication and Dialogue Remains Ongoing Throughout Prognosis Changes

Last, but certainly not least, maintain a high level of communication throughout the hospice process and as the prognosis changes. As your loved one’s illness or disease advances, there will be decisions to be made in terms of ongoing care. Make sure that you continue to communicate throughout the process. Having conversations with them about their wishes is something you need to readdress time and time again. This isn’t a one and done situation. Instead, welcome continued dialogue as you move through this process together.

Contact us at Doctor’s Choice Hospice Care

At Doctor’s Choice Home Care & Hospice, we understand that hearing the word “hospice” can evoke some pretty intense and scary feelings. However, we are here and willing to walk you through the process, educating you and helping you transition right along with your loved one. There is never a question you can’t ask or point you can’t bring up. We want to hear from you now and throughout the duration of your loved one’s care. We are entering into this last adventure as a team and want to help you help your loved one make these next few months as rewarding and peaceful as they can be. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

If you would like to learn more about our Advanced Illness Management (AIM) Program, click here.

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