What to expect when beginning end-of-life care

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Regardless of whether it’s for a loved one or yourself, the process of entering hospice or palliative care can seem daunting and may come with many questions. First of all, it’s important to recognize that the decision you’re making is the best one possible — and support will be there for you no matter what. Next, you need to know what you can expect when beginning end-of-life care.

 

Do the research and be informed.

Making the right hospice or palliative care decision begins with having the right information. The simplest way to start educating yourself on care options near you is to search for providers in your area. When researching be sure to look for a provider’s offerings and capabilities, certifications, history, and reputation.

 

Have open communication.

When it comes to the wishes of a loved one or yourself, it’s necessary to have an open line of communication so that everyone involved is on the same page. Caregivers especially need good communication skills when speaking with doctors and medical staff.

 

Prepare yourself and your environment.

Whether it may be improving the safety of a home, creating a more comfortable space, or just doing a deep clean of a living area, it’s important to prepare the environment of the person receiving care. Keeping cleanliness a priority will ensure the most comfort for those in hospice or palliative care.

 

For both patients and caregivers, it’s important to take time to prepare mentally as well. This can include finding good tools that will work for you like an appointment calendar, medication log, or checklist of important tasks. In addition, caregivers need to take the time for their respite. Caregiving itself can be taxing and stressful so taking care of yourself allows you to take the best care of your loved one.

 

Admittance into care.

After being admitted, a dedicated hospice or palliative care team will create a plan, taking into consideration the patient’s wants and needs. This team may include the patient, their loved ones or family members, primary care doctor, hospice or palliative care doctor, nurses, spiritual care professionals, home health aides, social workers, and even pharmacists. Depending on the patient, they may also recommend additional services like speech, physical, and occupational therapies.

 

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Receive care in-home or at a facility.

A patient may receive treatment either at home or in a facility such as a hospital, nursing home, assisting-living facility, or dedicated hospice center. Regardless of where a patient resides, staff will provide regular care and any additional services required 24/7, 365 days a year to fulfill a patient’s every need.

 

Gain a new foundation of support.

While providing both emotional and spiritual support, a dedicated team will go above and beyond to meet the patient’s goals and wishes. This also extends to the entire family, with hospice and palliative centers offering support to the loved ones of a patient as well, even after their loved one has passed.

 

While entering hospice or palliative care may not be the first choice that comes to mind when your loved one or you is struggling with health, it does provide many benefits during a life-limiting illness. And while we can only prepare so much before pursuing this kind of care, it’s important to know as much as possible so you can make the best decision.

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