Family members may reach the point where they need additional help to care for their loved one suffering from mesothelioma. Families may want to consider hospice care. Hospice provides care to patients who are in the terminal stages of an illness. In order to qualify for hospice care, your condition must be considered incurable and terminal and your doctor must certify that your life expectancy is six months or less.

Hospice teams include medical professionals, counselors, therapists, social workers, spiritual advisors, home health aides and trained volunteers. The goal of hospice is to care for those who are in the last stages of life. It endeavors to enhance the quality of life and make the last stages of life as comfortable as possible. It provides emotional, psychological, and spiritual care and support for you and your family.

Focus on Pain Management and Family Support

In hospice, the focus of care has changed. It is no longer concerned with aggressive measures to cure a disease. Instead, it focuses on relieving pain, anxiety, and other symptoms, so those who are dying may do so with dignity and in the comfort of their own homes with their loved ones caring for them. Often this is referred to as palliative care. Hospice provides many benefits, including basic medical care with a focus on pain and symptom control, medical supplies and equipment, trained volunteer support, respite for your caregivers, counseling and guidance for you and your family, and counseling and support for your loved ones after you die.

Hospice care can take place in your own home or in a hospice center, sometimes in a nursing home, long-term care facility, or hospital. Most of the time, care will take place in your home and a family member or loved one will look after you. A member of your hospice team will visit you for an hour or so one or more times a week. The hospice team will work with your caregivers to help them give you the best possible care and to prepare them to handle situations that can arise in the home. Hospice programs offer services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you or your caregivers may call the hospice team at any time. If necessary, a nurse can usually come to your home at any hour of the day or night. Hospice also provides respite care for your caregivers. Trained volunteers may be available to relieve your caregiver for a few hours each week. Some hospice programs provide respite for several days at a time. If you enter a hospice program, you can still remain under the care of your doctor, and your doctor will work with your hospice team to stay involved in your care. You may also be treated in a hospital and then return to hospice care. If you live longer than 6 months, you can remain under hospice care. If you get better, you can leave the hospice program.

Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and by most, but not all, private insurance programs. It is best to find out exactly what your insurance covers before you enter a hospice program. Many hospice programs will help you to investigate your coverage.

The Decision is a Personal One

The decision to enter hospice is a personal one. It is a decision that involves the patient, his or her family, and the patient’s physician. It is often difficult for patients and loved ones to face the end of life, to acknowledge that it is approaching. Some people wish to pursue aggressive measures up to the very end, to do everything possible to live as long possible by any medical means possible. They may not be able to accept the concept of hospice care. Some patients and their loved ones simply do not know about hospice care or they are afraid that they will not be able to see their doctor anymore.  They may also fear that they will not be able to go to a hospital or be able to leave the program if they get better.

Those who choose hospice care enter a comprehensive program, with dedicated professionals and volunteers who endeavor to help their patients to live out their last days in dignity and comfort, without anxiety and pain, and to help their loved ones to face the myriad issues that arise with terminal illness and death.