No one wants to reach the point where they are forced to put a loved one in hospice. It’s hard on all of the family members, not just the one who needs the extra care. However, ignoring the signs that your loved one is ready for hospice could mean denying them the necessary care they need to extend their life and comfort.
Don’t be Afraid of Hospice
First off, you need to understand what hospice is and why it exists. If you’re afraid or confused by it, you’ll never be confident enough to make a decision when the time is right.
It’s also important to know that hospice care is different than palliative care. The latter is intended to make the patient as comfortable as possible, while also pursuing life-prolonging treatments. Hospice, on the other hand, is only focused on making the patient comfortable. You call in hospice when you’re no longer actively pursuing treatment and ready for the natural dying process to take place.
5 Signs Your Loved One is Ready
Specifically, here are a few ways you’ll know it’s time to call in hospice:
Everyone is Willing to Let Go
While there are a number of reasons, the first one you have to start with is the willingness to die. According to Rocky Mountain Care, “Most importantly, when you’re both ready to let go, it’s time for hospice care.” You’ll usually know when this time comes, as your loved one is no longer responding to treatment and wants to be as comfortable as possible during their remaining days.
Decrease in Functioning
A noticeable decrease in normal functioning is another warning sign that it may be time for hospice. Such functioning includes eating, walking, bathing, dressing, and going to the bathroom. While a decrease in functioning isn’t reason alone for hospice, it is another sign that hospice should be carefully considered.
Caregivers are Physically Exhausted
When loved ones and caregivers are physically exhausted and unable to leave the side of the patient, hospice should be considered as a viable option.
Body Seems to be Preparing for Death
When you’re not dealing with a sudden or tragic accident, the dying process typically follows a pattern. According to HospiceNet.org, “Usually this is an orderly and undramatic progressive series of physical changes which are not medical emergencies requiring invasive interventions.” The website goes on to explain that these physical changes are the body’s way of preparing to stop. At this point, comfort is the primary goal.
Ready to Take the Hospice Oath
You should only pursue hospice as an option if you are willing to accept the oath of hospice (as laid out by the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization), which promises you will “neither hinder, nor hasten death.” If you’re willing to respect and honor this oath, you’re ready for hospice care.
Put Your Loved One First
It’s not easy to think about yourself in this process, especially if the loved one is your parent, spouse, or child; however, remember that everything you’re doing is for the patient. They are the ones experiencing the situation firsthand – not you. The goal is to make them feel as comfortable and loved as possible. You’ll have your time to grieve and be comforted in the coming days, weeks, or months. For now, it’s up to you to make decisions that provide your loved one with the right environment to mitigate discomfort and extend life.