Is it Time to Consider Hospice for Your Loved One? 

When it comes to our loved ones, the end of life is a time that deserves compassion and dignity. Those we hold dear are an important part of our lives – we accept nothing but the best for them. In the face of a terminal diagnosis, choosing a path that will provide our loved ones with the greatest quality of life and care possible in the days ahead is a significant emotional responsibility.

Hospice care is focused on providing quality-of-life support physically, emotionally, and spiritually for people who are terminally ill and their families. It is designed for those with a life expectancy estimated to be six months or less, and the timing of when a patient enters hospice is key. We often hear people say that they wish they’d chosen hospice sooner, and in fact, some patients live longer with the help of hospice care.1

You may be wondering, “When is the right time to elect hospice care for my loved one?” While the decision to begin hospice is unique to each patient and family, there are common needs and indicators that may indicate a need for hospice or trigger a hospice evaluation.

1. A decline in health and function

People who are nearing the end of their lives often experience a decline in their overall health and function, requiring added care to support quality of life. Signs could include:

  • Treatments are no longer working
  • Severe or persistent pain
  • Multiple emergency room visits or frequent hospitalizations
  • Multiple falls
  • Frequent or recurring infections
  • Generalized or prolonged weakness or fatigue
  • Breathing difficulty (with or without a dependency on oxygen)
  • Weight loss
  • A lack of appetite or unwillingness/inability to eat

How can Magnolia Hospice help?
Your hospice team will create a custom care plan for the patient and family’s specific needs that often includes a combination of:

  • 24/7 access to a nurse for help with any needs, concerns, or questions that arise anytime
  • Managing symptoms, including pain, prioritizing comfort and well-being
  • Equipment and medications for new and existing symptoms, as needed
  • Disease-specific care
  • Care in the home or another place of residence, reducing disruption caused by doctor and emergency visits
  • Support for caregivers and family members
  • Patient safety
  • Grief support and/or spiritual support

Our purpose is to serve as a holistic care resource for families facing terminal illness, walking alongside them through the journey with compassion and respect.

2. Physical and/or emotional pain

Terminal illness often causes physical pain for the patient as well as emotional pain for the patient and loved ones. Indicators of physical pain are typically apparent, but also be aware of possible signs of mental distress related to the disease itself or due to coping with the end-of-life journey that can indicate a need for hospice comfort care:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Grief
  • A decline in cognitive function
  • A decline in desire or ability to communicate
  • Overall withdrawal or isolation
  • Refusal to eat and/or drink (not including physical limitations)

How can Magnolia Hospice help?
Caring for the patient and family’s emotional and spiritual needs is as much of a focus for your hospice team as caring for your loved one’s physical condition. Your care team can offer:

  • Grief and emotional support for the patient
  • Grief and emotional support for loved ones
  • Spiritual support, with access to a Chaplain on your care team
  • Bereavement support for up to 13 months after a patient’s death
  • Respite care when needed to provide relief to family caregivers

Living with a life-limiting illness doesn’t have to mean suffering from fear and anxiety. Our team is here to care for all aspects of patients’ and loved ones’ emotional and spiritual needs, along with physical needs, allowing your family to focus on what matters most.

3. The patient wants hospice care

How and when to receive medical care are choices everyone deserves. Patients who have agency over their care, meaning they understand and are able to consent to the decision, might express a desire for hospice on their own. This is often seen when:

  • A terminal diagnosis is received, and life expectancy is 6 months or less, should the disease run its natural course
  • A patient doesn’t wish to continue with aggressive medical intervention
  • Treatments are unavailable or are not effective
  • Comfort and quality of life is a person’s priority over pursuing treatment
  • Family members/caregivers need additional support

How can Magnolia Hospice help?
Starting hospice care at the right time can significantly improve a patient’s dignity and peace, and in certain situations, help them live longer than the initial 6-month prognosis.1

There is no perfect answer to the question of how to care for a terminally ill loved one. It’s extremely personal to each family and is surrounded by many emotions.

If you’re wondering whether hospice care is the best choice for someone in your life, the areas we’ve discussed here are valuable to consider when evaluating the patient’s and family’s needs in partnership with your doctor(s). Because hospice is focused on providing expert care for comfort and quality of life during the end stages of a terminal prognosis, it’s often preferred by patients, families, and physicians when the signals above arise.

While it’s never an experience anyone enjoys facing, end-of-life healthcare is a part of life’s journey and is worthy of the utmost compassion. We’re here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like to speak with a member of the Magnolia Hospice Team.


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