When the time comes, families have to decide between life-prolonging treatment and hospice care for their ailing loved one. Many see hospice as an option that means one thing: giving up on life.
It may seem that way in a sense. When hospice care begins, the physicians stop looking for ways to cure the patient. But in the broader, more important sense, hospice care is more about considering what’s best for the patient and their family as the patient lives out their final years.
So, it’s certainly not about giving up – it’s about giving hope.
Hope of Life at the End of Life
Hope takes a different meaning for terminally ill patients. Hope may be as simple as, “I hope you won’t let me die in pain,” or “I hope you’ll stay by my side.” Hospice care is about fulfilling these wishes and making the most of what life they have left.
If the patient’s wish is to be around long enough to see their daughter’s wedding, then that takes more weight than finding a cure to prolong their life.
Hospice of the Calumet Area says the goal of care providers is to manage pain and symptoms to enhance quality of life, while offering emotional and spiritual support so the patient receives the greatest amount of peace and comfort possible.
Moving Past the Taboo of Death
Many families have delayed hospice care until the last days of life. In 2012, the average length of time a Medicare patient received hospice care was only 19 days, says the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
This is largely because death is still a taboo subject in Western society. Many families and patients are still reluctant to discuss the possibility of hospice care. Many spend their last moments in the hospital receiving treatment that is neither effective nor wanted. As a result, they don’t get to see their loved ones as much as they want, or do the things they want.
It’s not the way to neither live nor die. And those who believe this have sought hospice care. It gives patients the physical and emotional support they need to make the most of their remaining life, and some semblance of hope in such a trying time.