There are more benefits to hospice than many people realize
Oct. 14, 2022
By Danielle Andersen
Waiting until the last week of life for hospice is a delay one may regret. Here’s why.
When it comes to end-of-life care, many people make assumptions about hospice without really knowing much about it.
“Before experiencing hospice, many find the term intimidating and scary,” said KaLee Mohrman, RN, director of hospice at Knute Nelson. “Hospice is having a clinical team come in to support you and your loved one and enhance your quality of life during the end stage of your life. It allows you to focus on making memories with your loved ones while being comfortable doing so.”
Here are some considerations that may change how you see hospice, and why you should consider it at the beginning of a terminal illness – not only at the end.
1. It is not your last decision.
Nearly 30% of people using hospice, choose this type of care during the final hours of their lives. Many people think of hospice as a final decision that only happens in the last days or weeks.
“In reality, an individual can be admitted to hospice services if their primary doctor has diagnosed them with a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less,” said Mohrman. “That said, it doesn’t mean that one can only be on hospice for six months. There is no set time.”
In her experience, some individuals have benefitted from hospice care for years – depending on the status of their condition. As long as they are in decline, hospice remains available to support them.
Hospice is set up to ease the journey toward life’s end on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
2. You don’t go to hospice. It comes to you.
Hospice is not a place, but rather a philosophy surrounding end-of-life care that happens wherever a patient feels at home. Polls cited by Knute Nelson have found that nine out of 10 adults would prefer to pass away in their own homes.
This may be someone who wants to spend their last days surrounded by familiar things that matter to them, such as family photos and loyal pets. Still, many do not seek out assistance from hospice until the very end.
“Even if you aren’t interested in signing up for hospice services today or even next week, the sooner you know about what hospice can provide when you’re ready for it, the better,” said Mohrman.
3. Loved ones benefit as well.
Hospice care also extends to family members and loved ones through emotional and even spiritual support, including 13 months of bereavement support for those left behind.
“Family members and primary caregivers are entitled to this extra care because they aren’t only grieving the thought of losing their loved one, but providing care and support, which can be exhausting,” said Mohrman. “Hospice can help ease the load and let the family members focus on being a spouse, child or grandchild.”
It is a decision people rarely regret making.
“We have never had someone say to us, ‘I wish I wouldn’t have admitted to services this soon.’ We do however, have patients say to us, ‘I wish I would have admitted to hospice services sooner,’ ” said Mohrman.
4. Spending more time on hospice can improve quality of life.
Along with caring and easing pain, hospice helps individuals deal with difficult emotions surrounding terminal illness. People who enter hospice early can more fully appreciate the many benefits of hospice and have enough time to find peace at the end of their journey.
“We provide pain management, spiritual and emotional care and preparation for funeral services, as well as massage therapy, therapeutic music, essential oil therapy and pet therapy, among other therapeutic treatments,” said Mohrman.
When a person determines they are not going to fully recover, it is still possible to approach the end of their journey with a good quality of life.
5. Hospice is more affordable than you may think.
Often, people delay hospice out of concern for the cost, but hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurances, depending on eligibility criteria.
The care one receives at the end of life can make a huge impact on how they spend their final days. For a life well lived, hospice is a fitting end.
To learn more about Knute Nelson Hospice, visit knutenelson.org/hospice.