I work with many senior clients who have complex medical conditions. One of the biggest struggles their caregivers have is when to make the switch from curative treatment to comfort measures. It has been my experience that the medical community is slow to recommend pulling back aggressive care and even slower to be frank with families about discussing the patient’s prognosis.
I frequently introduce the idea of hospice care long before my client’s physician has given it a thought. Hospice care has been a tremendous benefit for my clients and their caregivers. Patients in hospice are seen weekly by a nurse case manager to provide symptom management. A hospice aide can offer multiple visits each week to provide help with personal care and companionship. Social workers, chaplains, and bereavement support staff also help the patient and their family members during this challenging time. Hospice care is offered to those who have a life-limiting illness that has a prognosis of 6 months or less. Patients that are referred to hospice early often have a better quality of life, improved symptom management, better family support, and prolonged survival.
It is my goal, as their advocate, to have that frank conversation about prognosis so my client can take advantage of all the benefits of hospice care.