Hospice and Palliative Care With COPD
Last updated: August 2023
Editor's Note: This article discusses hospice and end-of-life care, which could be potentially triggering for certain readers.
I know a lot of people don’t like to talk about the subject, but I feel like everyone should be prepared for either one. We may need it someday and should know everything we can about it.
If you had asked me about 15 years ago, I would have associated it with end-of-life care and assumed that someone who was close to death would go to a hospice house to spend their remaining days. As far as palliative care, I had never heard of the term before.
What is hospice care?
Essentially hospice is specialized care you may receive when your prognosis is measured in months instead of years, and comfort is the primary goal. Hospice can help you prepare physically, emotionally, and spiritually as you near the end of your life.
Hospice aims to allow people to gain control of their lives, live in comfort and dignity, and feel supported as they prepare for death in their own way. You can even have hospice at home as well as a hospital, nursing home, or hospice house.
Hospice is so different now. At this moment in my life, I have many friends who are in either hospice or palliative care, and I am so glad to know now that it is much more than I used to think it was. They are all getting great care, and some are even getting out and enjoying everyday life.
In the past, it was said that they put you on hospice if you had six months or less to live, but that isn't the case anymore. You can be reevaluated often and taken off if need be or put back on, depending on your needs.
The goal for most hospice providers is managing symptoms, so you can feel comfortable and spend your final days in ways that are important to you. You and your family are surrounded by an extra layer of support from nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, physicians, volunteers, and bereavement counselors.
I do think there is a misconception that those in hospice have to quit taking all meds, but it is not true in most cases. They could possibly stop some meds like chemo, but you can probably still take things that will make you as comfortable as possible such as pain meds, antidepressants, anxiety, etc.
My parents were in hospice care, and we all loved the care they received from all of the nurses and home care aides. They were also so good to me and my siblings and made hospice bearable. Even with me working in hospitals and nursing homes over the years, I still learned so much from them.
The aftercare that we received from them was outstanding. For such a hard time, they seem to cover all the bases and beyond. My dad was able to pass at home surrounded by his loved ones.
My mom was another story. She passed a year later in a nursing home during covid. Thank goodness they put her in a private room so my family could take turns saying goodbye and my sister and I could be there during her passing.
We were very fortunate to get to be with her because so many passed around that time and were all alone. I feel blessed to have been with both of my parents when they passed and to have cared for my dad in his last month of life.
What is palliative care
Palliative care aids symptom relief, comfort, and support for people with serious illnesses like heart disease, cancer, or chronic respiratory disease. Its benefits extend to caretakers, too.
If you're living with a life-altering illness, palliative care may be available to improve your health and overall well-being. Palliative care complements the care you receive from the providers in charge of your plan.
Your care team works to deliver the best care or outcome available for your condition. Palliative care helps you live more comfortably with the medical, social, and emotional support needed to cope with a serious illness. You can receive palliative care regardless of age, prognosis, or whether you're receiving treatments.
I hope this help explain hospice and palliative care if you already didn’t know about them, and I hope it made you feel a little more comfortable talking about them.
How do you all feel about this subject? Are you or anyone you know on either of these programs? Please share with us in the comments below.
Do you feel comfortable asking your doctor questions about your COPD?