Hospice care is care for people who have chosen to no longer seek a cure or treatment for an illness or disease they are suffering from. The goal of hospice care is to provide the patient with the highest quality of life, offering relief from pain and other symptoms, for whatever time remains. This article will provide you with a guide to the disadvantages, or "cons" of hospice care; it does not constitute or replace medical advice.
While most patients find hospice care to be to their benefit, disadvantages of choosing hospice care include:
It may be difficult for the patient and family to acknowledge the need for hospice, as this is acknowledgement of death or dying.
Generally a person who receives hospice care has been diagnosed with six months or less to live. Most of the people receiving hospice care have cancer, but those with other terminal illnesses such as AIDS, dementia, heart disease, or any other terminal condition may seek this care as well. The person seeking the care agrees to receive the hospice care instead of continuing to seek treatments to treat or cure their illness. This can be very difficult for the patient and the family. Hospice teams will have counselors and social workers to help with this difficult time.
A doctor will not always be available during hospice care, as opposed to a hospital.
For the patient at home, this can be a cause of concern, but 24-hour nursing support will be available, as well as daily visits from a nurse. Terminally ill patients may worry about the lack of twenty-four hour availability of a doctor to treat them. This can be troubling to both the patient and his or her family. The hospice team can address these concerns with the patient.
Emergency medical care is not at hand.
Similar to the concern above, some patients may be concerned that emergency care, such as a cardiac unit, will not be available to them if they are not in the hospital. Discuss this concern with the hospice team members, which will consist of doctors, nurses, home health aides, and others who should be able to address the patient's questions and concerns.
Care at home can be very stressful, both physically and emotionally
This can be especially hard for the patient who worries about burdening his or her family. And choosing to care for a family member at home is incredibly stressful. But home visits from a nurse, as well as on call 24 hour nursing support and daily assistance with tasks such as bathing, cleaning, cooking, etc. can help ease the burdens of home care. Still, a patient or his or her family may find care at home to simply be too much.
The patient may not want an outsider caring for him or her during the final months or weeks.
This may be a concern especially for the patient with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Having a stranger care for a terminally ill patient may increase his or her stress. Discuss this with your hospice team and weigh the benefits of hospice care versus other decisions. Only you can ensure that an informed decision is made for you or your loved one.
For more information, go to http://www.nhpco.org/, the home page for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. This website offers a comprehensive guide to hospice care, and also has a provider directory you can access. I hope you found this information helpful.