The subject of death has long been taboo amongst western cultures. Despite the fact that we all die eventually, most of us don’t want to talk or even think about it, much less stare it in the face. And so, when a family member is diagnosed with a terminal illness, that person may become something of a social pariah, especially as his health declines. However, you may be truly devoted to your beloved family member, in which case the difficulties associated with care and/or decisions may end up falling to you. As such, there may come a time when you have to decide if hospice care is the right way to go. But how do you know when you’re supposed to send a terminally ill relative to the care of those who will keep him comfortable and facilitate easy passage into the afterlife? Here are a few considerations that could help you to decide.
Even for patients that are diagnosed as terminally ill, there may still be hope thanks to advances in modern medicine, experimental treatments, or some kind of miracle brought on by radical lifestyle changes. Just look at author Kris Carr (‘Crazy Sexy Cancer’ and other publications), who was diagnosed with incurable, stage four cancer back in 2003, was told she had mere months to live, but managed to turn her whole life around through holistic practices, arresting the progress of her cancer in the process. More than ten years later, she’s still going strong. Of course, very few terminally ill patients will be blessed with the kismet of Kris Carr. Most will succumb to their circumstances. So you need to be prepared to arrange for hospice care when it is needed.
The place to begin is by speaking to your loved one’s primary physician. This professional should be able to give you information and advice that will help you in the decision-making process. But beyond that, the best gauge is the patient, and there are several signs you may want to watch for. When the pain has gotten so bad that they are sedated the majority of the time, you might want to start considering hospice care. While a live-in nurse or a regular hospital setting may suffice, it’s probably only a matter of time before death brings your loved one’s suffering to an end.
You might also want to watch for signs that your loved one is no longer the person you’ve known and loved. When his physical, mental, and emotional state has deteriorated to the point that he’s living on machines and he’s totally checked out, there may be nothing more you can do. Those who are terminally ill may eventually get tired of fighting and you probably don’t want to continue to watch your loved one suffer needlessly. Your family member may even tell you that he’s ready to go, or that it’s time to let go, for your part. This is a good time to turn the matter over to a qualified organization like hospice New Orleans or New York. No matter how much you love your family member, you may not be able to provide the support he needs at the end of his life. And you shouldn’t have to be the one to discover he has passed away. So when the time is right, don’t hesitate to make arrangements to provide hospice care. It will likely end up being the right decision for all involved.