Why Family Members Often Wait Too Long to Begin Hospice

Why Family Members Often Wait Too Long to Begin Hospice

Hospice provides valuable resources to help someone live their best life possible, despite life-limiting illnesses.

So, why aren’t families taking advantage of these services to ensure comfort and support for their loved ones?

Hospice Care: Length of Time

In many situations, families enlist the help of hospice care in the latest stage of health issues. In fact, some reports show that the average length of hospice is only 12 days.

The Medicare hospice benefit (started in 1982) provides medical support for patients with a prognosis of six months or less. The patient has access to medical providers who help with medications, comfort, symptom management, and more during this time.

The truth is that these services are available much earlier. Waiting to call a hospice provider only prolongs the patient’s discomfort and puts an unnecessary burden on the family.

Why Families Wait for Hospice Care

It’s a complex topic to understand why families wait for hospice services. For example, memory problems (like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease) make it complicated for healthcare providers to determine an accurate prognosis.

A person might have different health challenges, but they don’t reach the eligibility requirements for hospice until the final stages.

On the other hand, the delay for hospice care is sometimes because the family doesn’t understand the services. There is a misunderstanding that hospice speeds up the timeline for a person’s passing.

The opposite is true: hospice can reduce symptoms and relieve pain, which often prolongs a person’s life.

When a person receives hospice care in the last few days or weeks, it is difficult for healthcare providers to optimize the benefits of these services.

Benefits of Early Hospice Care

Families and patients can receive the full benefits of hospice care when a plan is put in place in the earlier stages of terminal illnesses. In addition to providing the necessary pain management that a person needs, it also includes support for physical activities, spiritual wellness, emotional health, and more.

Every hospice plan is carefully designed to match the individual’s preferences and requests. Hospice providers strive to honor the family’s needs at all times.

Here are a few of the essential reasons why hospice should begin sooner rather than later:

  • Optimal Symptom and Pain Control: Medical care over the course of months gives the healthcare team the chance to optimize medications and treatments to alleviate these issues. As the staff gets to know the patient, they can provide the ideal level of comfort and relief.
  • Reduce Costs Overall: Patients who are eligible for hospice receive everything they need related to their medical care, including equipment and supplies. Access to these resources helps to reduce the financial strain on caregivers and family members.
  • Planning Support: Hospice providers can guide the family through the most difficult decisions that arise in this chapter of life. Planning can include medical care, funeral services, and bereavement.
  • Improved Quality of Life: You can create lasting memories with loved ones, which is easier to accomplish when the patient is feeling good. Hospice focuses on improving quality of life, which means that they can have a better experience when spending time with loved ones.
  • Stress Management: Chronic illness causes stress for both the patient and their caregivers. In-home hospice care helps alleviate these worries, so there is less anxiety and stress in the last few months of life.
  • Avoid Hospital Readmission: People prefer to stay at home instead of spending their final weeks or months in a hospital. Early hospice care is a great solution to minimize the risk of a person experiencing an emergency and being admitted to the hospital.
  • Personal Preferences: Most people prefer to spend their final days at home. This environment can be more comfortable and peaceful than a medical setting, such as a hospital or skilled nursing center.

If you are considering hospice care, don’t hesitate to talk to our team at Avatar Healthcare about your options. We will discuss these benefits and help you decide whether hospice is the right fit for your family.

Hospice Center vs. In-Home Hospice Care

Another common misunderstanding about hospice care is that the person must move to another location where they receive hospice services.

The truth is that you can choose in-home hospice care and receive the top-notch medical support that is also available in a skilled nursing community.

When a patient has an advanced illness, they need additional medical support. But it doesn’t mean that they must move out of the comfort of their home and into an unfamiliar environment.

Signs It’s Time for Hospice Services

Here are a few signs to help you know when you or a loved one will benefit from hospice care:

  • Curative treatments are no longer an option, and the priority shifts to care for pain and suffering
  • Frequent visits to the emergency room
  • Repeated hospitalizations
  • Uncontrolled pain or symptoms
  • A rapid decline in health
  • Recurring infections
  • Unable to perform daily tasks, such as bathing, toileting, or walking
  • Preference to stop aggressive treatments and instead focus on the quality of life
  • Mental confusion and/or decreasing alertness

Hospice doesn’t mean you are “giving up.” The truth is that hospice care is an empowering choice to help families optimize the overall experience for everyone involved.

Delaying hospice care can prolong a person’s suffering. Instead, enlist the help of medical experts who can assist with essential tasks such as the patient’s comfort, pain management, and symptom control.

When Do You Need Hospice Care?

If you or a loved one needs hospice services, schedule a consultation with us to learn more about your options. We provide a personalized plan that helps you maximize the available benefits.

You deserve to live in the highest levels of comfort and dignity, and hospice can support these needs.

Whether you already have hospice eligibility through your doctor or are just starting to explore the options, we are here to help. We help you connect with top-notch medical providers to establish eligibility and provide you with the ideal level of care you desire.

In addition to hospice services, we also offer home health and personal home care services. Contact us to schedule a consultation. Call Avatar Healthcare at (844) 422-5528.

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