Monday, November 1, 2010

Hospice Care

Most of us have probably heard of hospice care or hospice services, but may not know much about it or how it might be of assistance. If you are a caregiver, especially one that is caring for a loved one who is terminally ill, then hospice can be extremely helpful. Although some services may vary from organization to organization, this article will give you a brief introduction to hospice care and describe some of the services and resources that it provides.

Hospice care is not corrective care or regular medical care that is meant to cure a disease. It is normally intended to assist caregivers who are caring for someone with a terminal illness and a prognosis of six months or less to live, if the disease runs its normal course. Hospice care can be provided for someone residing in a nursing home or regular care facility, or it can be provided for someone who is cared for at home. Normally, a hospice care team will include doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, a chaplain, home health assistants and much more.

The hospice team is able to answer all of the questions that a caregiver may have and offer helpful advice. Home health assistants and nurses can help with many of the day-to-day tasks of caregiving, including bathing the patient. A doctor is readily available to visit and check on the patient, and let you know what to expect as time goes on. Doctors and nurses are typically available around the clock, by telephone, to answer any questions that you may have. Hospice can also arrange for equipment and supplies, provide medication, and help manage any pain or discomfort associated with the patient's condition.

On top of all the medical care and resources that hospice provides, their social workers are there to encourage you and give advice on care. Counselors are also available for both the patient and family members. We saw firsthand how loving and supportive they were with the recent passing of a loved one who had Alzheimer's disease.

Keep in mind that once a patient goes on hospice care it does not have to be a permanent arrangement. If their condition suddenly improves, they can go back off of hospice care and resume regular medical treatments. Again, this is the beauty of having a highly trained and experienced hospice team that is regularly monitoring the patient's condition and who is in close communication with the caregiver.

Being a caregiver is never easy. Many of the caregivers of today who are taking care of a loved one, have never had any formal caregiver training or medical training. They demonstrate their love each day by doing the best they can to care for another. When dealing with end of life issues you do not have to go it alone. Hospice is there to come along beside you and walk with you and guide you through this very difficult time.

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