What You Need to Know About End-of-Life Care

It makes an important difference in quality of life and comfort, but end-of-life care is hard to talk about and feels overwhelming. Understanding the basics of end-of-life care makes the conversation easier.

Categories: Choosing Care General

Tags: , , , ,

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Is it time for hospice? Are hospice and palliative care the same thing? Is hospice only for cancer patients? If you’re asking these questions, you’re not alone. Many families are confronted with questions about end-of-life care as their loved one ages, receives a new terminal diagnosis, or continues to battle an existing condition like congestive heart failure. These conversations leave people feeling vulnerable and experiencing a mix of emotions, but they’re a valuable part of planning for continued quality of life as seniors age.

Much like estate planning does for assets, end-of-life care planning provides an opportunity to consider and make decisions about how loved ones want to spend their final days. Planning in advance of the need gives complete control to seniors for important decisions like life support and pain management. Having the conversations in advance allows seniors to learn about and understand their options from trusted sources like their care team. 

Definitions You’ll Need to Know

Misconceptions about end-of-life care start with the often confused hospice and palliative care. While palliative care is part of hospice, it’s not just a different term for hospice. Palliative care is about comfort and pain management. It’s often offered to patients undergoing cancer treatments, extensive recovery after surgery, and people managing chronic diseases.

Hospice focuses on the quality of a person’s life as they near the end of it. It includes palliative care and treatment of symptoms of any disease, but not treatment of the disease itself. Typically, hospice care can begin when a doctor believes their patient has six months or less of life left (if seeking cost coverage through Medicare) and the person decides they want to stop any treatments related to resolving their condition. Treatment for symptoms with a focus on comfort continues and becomes the focus.

What Is Hospice?

Depending on their individual circumstances, people can choose to stop hospice services and resume treatment. Hospice care doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. Understanding a patient’s goals and clear, consistent communication is a large part of hospice services.

Hospice services include physical comfort, emotional support, along with spiritual care for the patient and emotional and spiritual support for their family during the end-of-life transition. A hospice care team includes doctors, nurses, volunteers, social workers, and spiritual advisors. Hospice care is holistic. Because hospice care is holistic, it can include things like music, art, and pet therapy if these activities are welcomed by the patient. 

What Isn’t Part of Hospice?

Hospice isn’t giving up on life. And it doesn’t include stopping treatments and therapies for all conditions. In the case of specific terminal diseases where treatment stops, hospice care does not mean that maintenance and treatment therapies stop for everything. For example, a person with cancer and diabetes who chooses to stop chemotherapy still receives insulin and dietary care to manage their diabetes.

Hospice also is not about speeding up the process of dying. While conversations around physician assisted suicide continue around the world and across the US, this is not a part of hospice care.

We talk about receiving hospice care as going into hospice, but hospice is not a specific place. Hospice care supports people at end-of-life in their home or a care facility. Delivering hospice care in familiar settings, surrounded by fond memories, and in the presence of loved ones supports the main goals of hospice care – comfort and quality of life.

Hospice at The Restoracy

Whether our resident selected the Restoracy as their home long before entering hospice or because a skilled nursing care facility supported their hospice goals, our skilled nursing care teams collaborate with hospice teams. We accomplish this by assisting patients, creating comfortable environments, and supporting family members. 

Connect with us for more answers to your skilled nursing care and hospice questions. Schedule your tour today.


Back to news