Cancer is a type of disease that is not contagious you cannot “catch” it as it is not viral. Cancer isn’t a single disease. The term cancer encompasses more than 200 diseases all identified by the proliferation of cells. Cancer is caused by DNA changes called the genetic changes which makes it hard to treat because the genetic changes occur in every cell in the body affecting many body systems. Everybody has a chance of developing cancer as any certain factors can lead to abnormal behavior of one or more cells in your body leading to cancer. Chemical carcinogens, age, life style factors, infections and your genetic makeup and combinations of these factors are some of the basic causes of cancer.
What is Hospice care?
Hospice care is used when a disease such as cancer gets to a stage where it can no longer be treated. Curative treatment and medications can no longer control it. This is the time when doctors suggest hospice care to make the final days of a patient’s life more comfortable as hospice care helps the patients to control the symptoms and manage pain. Usually, hospice care is referred when the patient has a prognosis of ten months and is used by the health care team to provide palliative and supportive care, relieve and avoid symptoms and the side effects of treatment.
Is hospice care like a treatment?
There is no true cure for any types of cancer but the development in the medication and technology has new treatments that has helped patients move closer to a cure, but still there is no permanent cure the treatment can give the patient relief from the symptoms and pain and a little more time but there is no cure for it. Some patients live the rest of their lives being treated for cancer and end up dying of other causes and many other patients get treatment for cancer and still die from it because the treatment depends on the stage of the disease. The advanced the stage the harder it is to control and treat the symptoms. When people are diagnosed with cancer, they hope for a cure but hospice care is different because it is supposed to take care of the patient when a cure is not possible, hospice care is supposed to help the patients feel better after the harsh side effects of the treatment because the patients are sometimes treated aggressively to control the disease it has a lot of negative affects like causing a lot pain. Hospice care is supposed to help patients get relief from these side effects, according to research patients might live longer who start hospice care early. Hospice care helps the patients to achieve what they desire in their final days like spending less time getting treated and spending quality time with family and friends.
When to consider hospice care for cancer patients?
Usually, hospice care is called in when the patient has a prognosis of less than six months to live according to a clinical diagnosis and the doctor of the patient certifies it. The disease of every patient runs its course differently but there are some common signs seen among the patient when their cancer has progressed to the most advanced stage. If the condition of the patient improves while in hospice care and the patient survives for more than six months, the patient’s physician can renew the hospice care plan and the patient can return to the active cancer treatment but if the patient has the following signs and symptoms, it may be time to consider hospice care:
- The patient has advanced stage of cancer.
- The treatment is no longer having any affect but is worsening the patient’s condition and is increasing pain.
- The patient had to visit hospital or ER frequently.
- The patient has lost a lot of weight.
- Prefers more time at home than in a hospital.
- Reduced desire to eat and increased amount of sleep.
- Inability to perform daily tasks like eating, walking, bathing or even talking sometimes.
- Uncontrolled pain, nausea and breathing problems.
- The patients desire to stop harsh treatment due to pain and discomfort and wanting to increase the quality of life instead of prolonging it.
What to expect?
Research shows that patients who decide to have hospice care at an early stage might live longer and they report the higher quality of life but still most of the patients with advanced cancer still prefer having treatment, it is harsh and has many side-affects and the patients end up suffering even when they didn’t have to. Hospice care is for improving the quality of life of the cancer patients by making them comfortable by reducing pain and providing care and treatment according to their desires in their desires. You should expect the following factors while in hospice care:
Coordinated care: A hospice has an interdisciplinary team of professionals which includes doctors, nurses, chaplains, nurse aides, volunteers and social workers who work in coordination with the patients’ loved ones in taking care of the patient. Each member of the team has their specified task and it is regularly reported and updated according to the care plan of the patient. The team has regular meetings where they discuss the health condition of the patient and stay update to the care plan. Hospice care is not limited to a certain place it can be provided at home at a health care facility or at a nursing home or any place the patient desires as long as the health condition of the patient allows it.
Pain management: Pain control is the major component in ensuring the comfort of the patient in hospice care as it gives the patient control over their final days as much as possible. The hospice care team is responsible for providing the medication for pain control and monitor the dosage and also offering different approaches like therapies and massages to control pain.
Spiritual and Emotional care: It is normal for patients to feel strong emotions when going through last stages of their life. Emotional care has a major role in hospice care and is provided and is approached in many different ways on several distinct levels. This can include the volunteers and social workers talking with the patients and patient family and chaplains are also there to help patients with any kinds of spiritual needs that arise with respect to their beliefs.
When to call hospice for cancer patients?
Usually, when families are considering hospice care for their loved one the most frequently asked question is when is the right time but most of the time the question arises when it is already time for hospice care and your loved one might already eligible for hospice care. When medical professionals decide that the cancer can no longer be treated and curative treatment has no effect, the patient has a prognosis of less than six months, the focus of the medical team is no longer the cure but the improvement of the remaining life of the patient. It is best to get in contact with a hospice facility as soon as the patient is given terminal diagnosis so that you can decided the best option suitable for both the family and the patient. The hospice professionals are there to help the patients and their families to guide them in the process of applying for hospice care. The decision of getting hospice care left entirely to the patient.
Hospice eligibility for cancer patients?
The first and most important eligibility criteria is that the patient has chosen supportive and palliative care above curative treatment and then, the medical specialists have approved the diagnosis of six months remaining to live. In addition to this if the patient has the following symptoms, he becomes eligible for hospice care:
- Frequent hospitalization
- Frequent visits to ER
- Decline in performance of mobility
- Decline in ability to do daily activities like eating, bathing, walking or using washroom.
- Difficulty breathing
- They require more assistance than they did previously.
- Increased sleep
- Less Communicative.
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Skin infections and other signs of deteriorating health.
- signs of deteriorating health.
Understanding when to put someone in hospice is important: Realization of loved one’s end of life is challenging mentally and emotionally as well as physically. Sometimes providing the best care for the illness is to keep the person comfortable and not suffering while managing pain. Focused on the care and quality of life the doctors, nurses and the care team work together to control the symptoms and minimize pain so that the patient may live comfortably for the remaining days of life. The specific time for a hospice is not set, it differs from case-to-case and health conditions. So, it is best to discuss the question of hospice admission with the doctor and hospice care team, because it is also important to consider what the family caregivers are feeling and the effect it has on them.
How we can help you: While it can be challenging to keep your emotions in check while watching your loved one going through pain and not being able to do something about it is important to understand that there are always other ways to alleviate that pain. There are people who can help you take care of your loved one in their final days and make end of life more comfortable with reducing pain and other symptoms. Melodia care hospice’s professional interdisciplinary team can assist you in taking care of your loved one in the way you see is best suitable and making them comfortable and improving their quality of life and making the most out of remaining time. You can contact Melodia Care hospice here.
You can reach Melodia Care at any time of day or night by contacting us through our 24/7 online customer support chat or by calling 1-888 635-6347 (MELODI-7).