If you’re considering end-of-life care for your loved one, or you’re not sure if it’s right for you, some things might help you understand what end-of-life care is and how it can help. These include different types of end-of-life care such as palliative and hospice, how they can support your loved ones in this life stage, what they do to respect your loved one’s wishes, where end-of-life care can take place, and when to consider end-of-life care.
#1. Different Types of End-Of-Life Care
There are two major types of end-of-life care: palliative and hospice. End-of-life care is typically needed when a person’s chronic illness has reached a point of needing medical care beyond what assisted living can provide. End-of-life care is often considered for illnesses such as late-stage dementia, Parkinson’s, or cancer.
Palliative care is used when your loved one still has time to live. A person can be in palliative care for as long as they need to, as long as treatments are working to slow down or reverse the progression of the illness. Those who work in palliative care can help provide pain management, as well as provide assistance with daily tasks.
Hospice care is only considered when a person has six months or less to live. The purpose of hospice is to provide a person comfort during the last moments of their life. Hospice is the best option when palliative care is no longer working. Palliative care may no longer be working if treatments are no longer working to slow down the progression of the illness.
#2. How End-Of-Life Care Supports Your Loved Ones
Hospice and palliative care can provide the support you and your loved one need when near the end of their life. There are many worries and concerns that surround the end-of-life experience, from financial fears to worries about wishes being honored to the pain a loved one is going through. End-of-life care can ease the suffering and relieve the family of stress. End-of-life care can provide support in many different areas of your and your loved one’s life.
The significant areas of support that end-of-life care covers include physical comfort, help with practical tasks, spiritual needs, and mental and emotional care.
Those near the end of their life might feel physically uncomfortable. They might experience pain, dry and itchy skin, or difficulty breathing. Those who work in end-of-life care are trained to help alleviate these symptoms.
Help With Daily Tasks
Daily tasks might become difficult for someone in the stage of dying. End-of-life care supports daily hygiene, cooking food, and doing chores.
Spiritual, Mental, and Emotional Care
End-of-life care can also help your loved one with their spiritual, mental, and emotional health. A person can talk to a therapist about their worries about dying, concerns about their family after they pass away, or letting go of the things that still burden them.
#3. How Caregivers Respect Your Loved One’s Wishes
It’s common for people to want a peaceful death for their loved ones. You might be afraid of disrespecting your loved one’s end-of-life wishes or fear they are not receiving the best care near the end of their life. Palliative and hospice care can and will respect your loved one’s wishes. Most places will ask in paperwork about wishes and preferences. For example, your loved one might want to be pain-free or pass on gently and naturally. If a facility doesn’t ask, it’s crucial to communicate these wishes ahead of time.
#4. Where End-Of-Life Care Takes Place
Where you choose to receive end-of-life care might depend on your loved one’s wishes or your financial situation. End-of-life care can be obtained in hospitals, nursing homes, palliative care clinics, or even at home. If you can, talk with your loved one about their personal preferences or wishes. They might prefer to be at home when they pass away or choose to be in the care of a facility. Some want to be surrounded by their loved ones, while others might prefer to pass away alone. If your loved one is unable to make the decision, it’s best to consider what works for you.
#5. When It’s Time to Consider End-Of-Life Care
It can be challenging to decide to start end-of-life care, which is why many wait to do it. There is a fear that by beginning end-of-life care, you’ve given up on your loved one. There’s also a fear that choosing to start end-of-life care hastens the progression of death. This isn’t true. In fact, those who enter palliative care can actually lengthen their loved ones’ life.
It’s recommended that your loved one enters end-of-life care if they are diagnosed with dementia, cancer, or any chronic illness that could eventually be fatal. Palliative care can be started right after diagnosis. Doctors can help provide treatments that alleviate symptoms and even reverse some progression. Hospice care should only be considered if the loved one has only six months or less to live and treatments are no longer working.