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Healthcare Decisions Day

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), designed to “inspire, educate, and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.” Being diagnosed with a terminal illness can be overwhelming for individuals and their families.

When diagnosed with a terminal illness, knowing where to turn next can be difficult. Furthermore, many people have misconceptions about hospice and when it should be introduced. This article will break down these common misconceptions surrounding hospice.

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What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is for people with a prognosis of 6 months or less if their disease runs its natural course. This type of care focuses on making those with a terminal illness as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Hospice care includes social, medical, emotional, and spiritual support. The goal of hospice care is to provide terminally ill patients the opportunity to live the last stages of their life with comfort and dignity.

Hospice Care Misconceptions

Unfortunately, many common misconceptions surrounding hospice may prevent individuals from taking advantage of hospice’s many benefits. One common misconception is that “hospice is a place.” However, hospice can be provided wherever a patient is located, which sometimes includes right in their home. Another common misconception is that “hospice is giving up,” but this could not be further from the truth. Many people end up living longer in hospice or sometimes graduate from hospice and no longer qualify.

While on hospice, patients can choose to keep their primary care physician (PCP). Hospice care staff will work with your PCP and other healthcare professionals to provide collaborative care. Some people also avoid hospice care because they feel it is “pointless” as their illness is terminal. While curative treatment may no longer be an option, that doesn’t mean other efforts serve no purpose. Living with a terminal illness can often cause individuals lots of pain. That’s why hospice care is a great option, as it serves to make individuals as comfortable and pain-free as possible. These supportive measures are key in the final stages of a person’s life.

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Taking Full Advantage of Hospice Care

Instead of waiting until the very end to receive hospice care, individuals with a terminal illness can fully benefit from hospice care sooner rather than later. Others may decide to stop hospice to try another experimental treatment. Hospice can be designed to work for each patient’s individual needs. With hospice, you or your loved one are in the “driver’s seat” of your own healthcare decisions.

Learn More About Hospice Care

Hospice care is a great healthcare option when curative treatment is no longer viable. Furthermore, hospice isn’t just for the last days or weeks of life. Hospice can support individuals for several months. Don’t let the common misconceptions surrounding hospice hold you or a loved one back from receiving supportive care.

Our care team supports patients in determining their own goals of care during the final stages of their illness. Our hospice care service focuses on comfort, support, quality of life, and education. Contact us today to discuss your questions and personal needs.

Advance care planning is the process of making important decisions about the care a person would like to receive in the event he or she can not speak for themselves. Many people put this off because it is a distressing topic to think about in advance. Other people simply think they’re too young or too healthy to be creating an advance care plan. However, a person of any age, in good health, can be faced with a crisis that takes their ability to make their own healthcare choices. These decisions are fundamental for seniors, especially those who have not solidified an advance care plan. If you’re unfamiliar with the elements of advance care planning, the process is about making both legal and personal decisions about your future. There are several factors to consider. Below are some tips for finalizing an advance care plan. First and foremost, complete an advance directive. These decisions are the foundation of advance care planning. An advance directive includes two parts—a living will and medical power of attorney. The living will enables a person to specify what care they would or would not want if faced with a medical crisis. Medical power of attorney, or healthcare proxy, is a person appointed to speak on a person’s behalf if that person is unable to speak for themselves. It’s always wise to keep finances in balance, but even more so as a person ages. Whether you live at home, or reside in assisted living it’s important to consider how your finances would fair in the event you had to move to a facility, or became ill. Seniors must be able to take responsibility for a portion of their living and medical expenses regardless of the circumstances. Another area to evaluate is home safety. If you age in place, it’s important to ensure a safe environment, free of hazards or fall risks. Establishing support and companionship is beneficial mentally and physically as a person grows old as well. Advance care planning isn’t just about signing legal documents. It’s about feeling safe and secure with your finances, living arrangements and overall environment. If it seems overwhelming, allow a family member to help and tackle one portion at a time. Once the advance care plan is complete, you can rest assured knowing your preferences are documented. In the event that it’s needed, not only does the individual benefit, but it is helpful for family members and health care providers that may need to care for a person with a life-limiting illness or medical emergency. For more information on advance directives, home safety and other elderly support resources, contact AT Home Care today.

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