When it comes to end-of-life issues, many families don’t know what’s involved – until their loved one is nearing death. Every day at Krause Funeral Homes, we meet with Milwaukeeans who are planning a funeral, cremation, or burial while in a state of shock and grief. They weren’t aware of the details that go into planning a final farewell. Maybe they haven’t given any thought to what their loved one would have wanted, and there were no plans put in place beforehand to address the many decisions that need to be made.
We find there is a similar level of uncertainty and confusion when it comes to hospice care. Our team works with families throughout Milwaukee, Brookfield, and New Berlin whose loved ones were receiving hospice care at their time of death. It’s evident there are many misconceptions about hospice and that people could benefit from knowing more about this end-of-life service. It’s not unusual for us to hear families say they have regrets about waiting so long to start hospice, thinking their loved one could have had a better quality of life before they died.
We know how important it is to understand the concepts of and philosophy behind hospice and want to be sure families make the best decisions possible. Here are five of the most pressing points to consider if your loved one is showing signs of deteriorating health.
- Entering hospice does not necessarily mean moving to a facility. Hospice care is often given at home with the help of nurses and home health aides. A hospital bed, commode, medications, and other supplies are brought to the home. If pain and symptoms can no longer be managed at home, the patient will be moved to a hospital, nursing home, or long-term care facility. Respite care is also offered in a facility during a time when a caregiver wants or needs a break in caregiving.
- Hospice shifts the goal of elongating life to gaining the best possible quality of life in the time that is left. Whether your loved one is in pain or experiencing shortness of breath, hospice helps manage symptoms so they can focus on relationships and achieve a sense of closure.
- You have to qualify for hospice through Medicare or private insurance. In order to qualify, two physicians must certify that you have a life-altering condition with an expected prognosis of six months or less.
- Hospice is not about sedation; it’s about increasing comfort and managing pain to improve a person’s quality of life. Some are apprehensive about hospice, thinking their loved one will be sedated and forego treatment from their regular doctor. In reality, the patient and family remain in charge of their decisions while being kept from unnecessary pain.
- Hospice isn’t always a permanent choice. If a person receives care and then changes their mind for any reason, they can end treatment – and restart at a later date if they desire. Some patients improve unexpectedly, and it is possible to revoke services at that time.
As you and your family learn more about end-of-life options, we want to remind you that our knowledgeable and professional care team is here to help. We also want you to know how valuable it is to put funeral arrangements in place ahead of time, as that will give your loved one control over their final tribute while sparing you from having to make more decisions during an already difficult time. Preplanning has never been easier thanks to our online form, and you’re always welcome to meet with us in person at any of our four locations around the Milwaukee area.