When modern medicine has reached its limit and there are no more courses of action to cure an illness or disease, hospice is available to offer comfort and care for your dying loved one. During such a difficult time, it is helpful to have professional care like hospice to provide for both the hospice patient and the surrounding family.
What Exactly Is Hospice?
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization defines hospice as providing “expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes.” The goal is to care for the patient rather than treat or cure. This service extends to the family members as well as the patient themselves, and it is often covered by private insurance and Original Medicare. Hospice can be carried out in specific facilities, hospitals, or most often in the comfort of your own home.
Meet the Hospice Team
Hospice care is a group effort to make the final days of a loved one’s life as comfortable and well-cared for as possible. Doctors, nurses, chaplains, counselors, and home health aides are just a few of the trained professionals who will work together on a hospice team. They work to meet the physical needs of your loved one, as well as the spiritual and emotional needs of both the patient and the surrounding family. Grief support and counseling continue to be available to the family after the hospice patient has passed.
While your loved one is being cared for in hospice, it is a good idea to ensure that their will has been updated and funeral arrangements have been established. There may be specific wishes you can honor regarding burial versus cremation, memorial service, or details such as music selection. Additionally, the cost of a funeral averages between $7,000 and $9,000, and this can be an unexpected financial burden if not properly planned for. It is helpful to learn whether your loved one has set aside money or qualifies for burial insurance. Ensuring that things are in order as early as possible will help alleviate stress and difficult decisions down the road.
Keeping Your Loved One Comfortable
If you are able to arrange for hospice care to take place in your loved one’s home, there are several things you can do to ensure the home is peaceful and well prepared. Make sure the home is clean or hire a cleaning service to do a thorough job. Keep the décor and furniture the same to increase comfort and familiarity. While the hospice team will take good care of your loved one, there are also things you can do to help keep them comfortable. You can keep their lips moist with ice or lip balm, and you can help better regulate their body temperature by offering a warm blanket or treating a fever. One of the easiest and most important things you can do is just to be there by their side, loving them and comforting them with your presence.
Taking care of a loved one at the end of their life can be a difficult and exhausting responsibility. Many caretakers feel overwhelmed and burdened with responsibility. Services like hospice can help ease that burden with a team of experts in their field, allowing you to just focus on spending quality time with that person. Gathering family members together in a comfortable and familiar space allows everyone to say goodbye in the way they need best. If you find yourself in this circumstance, consider allowing hospice to help.
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