When living with advanced chronic lung disease, it is important to know what treatment options are available for you at every stage of your disease. Knowing what kind of assistance is available through hospice services, can help you make decisions about the care you receive, especially if your disease progresses to end-stage. If you or a loved one has a chronic lung disease, talk to your healthcare provider to learn about your options. Dr. Andrew Mayo from St. Croix Hospice shares information with us about how hospice services can benefit not only the person living with the disease, but their loved ones as well.

Dr. Andrew Mayo headshot Dr. Andrew Mayo

How do you know if hospice is right for you or your loved one? 

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a terminal illness resulting in a life expectancy of six months or less, and curative treatments are no longer the best option, it may be time for hospice.  

As chronic diseases progress, people may find themselves visiting the hospital more often. The revolving door between emergency room visits, hospitalization and going back home can become tiring and impact quality of life. If someone decides they are no longer interested in the hospital environment and they would rather focus on easing symptoms, hospice may be the best option. End-of-life care can make a huge difference for patients with terminal illness, and hospice providers have resources to help reduce patient’s pain and increase comfort. If you’re uncertain about whether hospice is the right next step for you or a loved one, you can ask your healthcare provider for more information.

What can individuals and their loved ones expect from hospice services? 

Hospice can bring expert care to patients when they are terminally ill, wherever they call home. A part of the healthcare continuum, hospice care considers every aspect of a person’s wellness. Individuals and their loved ones can expect hospice services to include a personalized plan that focuses on the physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being of the patient.  Hospice care teams go above and beyond to care for patients and their loved ones. For example, St. Croix Hospice has an interdisciplinary care team that consists of clinicians, massage therapists, music therapists, dietitians, chaplains who serve all religious and spiritual backgrounds, social workers and more.  

What is one of the biggest misconceptions about hospice care? 

People may feel a loss of hope when entering the late stages of a terminal disease, and one of the biggest misconceptions is that hospice is “giving up.” On the contrary, hospice is healthcare and provides hope for patients to live every day as best as possible with the condition they have. Hospice focuses on quality of life goals and helps patients receive care in their preferred environment. I never hear people say, “we wish we had waited to start hospice.” On the contrary, patients and their families frequently express that they only wish they had started hospice care sooner. As one of our patient’s family members recently described, hospice care is not giving up, rather it is “an immense act of love and caring.”  

What are a few things you wish everyone with a progressive, chronic disease knew about hospice care?  

Patients with progressive, chronic diseases should know that hospice care can provide much needed comfort and that hospice care teams are fully committed to patients’ physical, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. Pain and symptom management efforts are central to hospice care plans, and hospice services often build upon the existing pain treatments that a patient was receiving prior to end-of-life care. People should also know that hospice is about living. At its core, hospice is about celebrating and honoring life, helping patients and their families make the most of every final moment together. 

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