If you need to make a choice about your end of life care, you may need to decide if you want to spend your last days at home or in hospice care. Although there is no right or wrong choice, there are several situations where hospice care is often the better option.
You Are Alone
If you do not have friends or family, you may want to have more interaction with medical and supportive staff at hospice care. You may even have the opportunity to build bonds with some of the residents who are in a similar situation. Facing a terminal condition alone can make the situation worse, and you may benefit from the comfort social interaction can bring. Furthermore, your medical needs may change quickly. If you do not have anyone at home to help you, you may face a situation where you cannot reach out for help or communicate your needs.
Protect Those Around You
When you have family members living at home, you may not want them to witness everything surrounding your end of life care and any physical or cognitive declines you may experience. Your medical team likely informed you about the changes you can expect in your body and mental state as you approach the end of your life. Some people choose to minimize the number of people closest to them who may witness changes that are associated with loss of independence, such as incontinence and the need for help with personal care.
Access To Pain Control
Being as comfortable as possible is critical when considering a terminal illness. You may need to weigh your access to medical care in an emergency when you are making the choice where you want to spend your final days. If you live in a remote area, being transported to the hospital or having any type of in-home care can be delayed. Unfortunately, this delay can cause you to be in severe pain for an unreasonable amount of time.
If you decide to forgo hospice care, you should specifically talk with your oncologist and palliative care team about the procedure for dealing with pain control. Since pain can escalate quickly, you may need to have medications readily available, which includes alternate methods of administration if you can no longer take pills. If you have someone who is responsible for your care, use your advance directive to make it clear under which circumstances you would rather be in a different setting, even if you can no longer make the decision for yourself.
End of life care is a sensitive topic, but now is the time to make decisions for your care. Weighing your options and making decisions promptly can increase your satisfaction with the care you receive. Visit http://www.carolinaeast.org for more information.