If you’re taking care of a loved one who has a chronic medical condition, one of the toughest questions you will face is when it’s time to let go and say good-bye. It’s a decision fraught with numerous emotions including sadness, guilt, and even relief. Because it’s such an emotionally charged issue, it’s hard to know when it’s time to seek out hospice care.
Hospice care vows to neither prolong nor hasten death. Hospice workers strive to provide the utmost dignity and comfort for a person while allowing death to occur naturally. Hospice can ease the physical end-of-life transition, while providing caregivers with the support they need to deal with the transition.
Because there is so much emotion around this issue, it’s good to have some objective guidelines that will help you know when the time is right.
Here are some signs that indicate it may be time for Hospice care:
- The disease has progressed to the point that treatments are no longer working and, perhaps, causing even more pain that the disease itself.
- You or your loved one has consciously chosen to stop all treatment and hospitalizations, resulting in a further decline in health and well-being.
- Many people near the end of their lives know it and are ready to let go. If you have a loved one who says, “I’m ready to go,” or “I’m ready for Hospice,” take them at their word.
When my father was near the end, he knew it. He fell at home during the night and immediately said to my mom, “Take me to Hospice.” However, she wasn’t ready to let go, so took him to the hospital, where he had a really bad night. The next day, he went to Hospice. Five hours later, he was gone.
It also helps to have the discussion about hospice care before it’s necessary. Having an honest and open conversation about end-of-life care will help make is easier for everyone involved when it becomes apparent that hospice care is appropriate. It is also helps to take to a hospice professional to get their input and advice. Hospice workers are highly trained in knowing what’s needed, what’s coming and how to best prepare both the patient and their loved ones for the transition. In my father’s case, the people taking care of my father told us almost to the minute how much longer he had. This made dealing with his death – and everything that needed to be done surrounding it – much easier.
Deciding when “the time is right” is never easy. Keep the lines of communication open with your loved one, and when they mention it might be time to consider hospice, take them at their word and make the call – and then trust the highly trained and compassionate hospice workers to help you with whatever comes next.