Many people receive hospice care while they are able to make their own decisions about their end-of-life care. If you are currently receiving hospice care, there are some services you should consider or decisions to make to improve your level of care.
Treatment For Other Conditions
Although your condition is terminal, you need to talk with your doctors and next-of-kin about treatment for other conditions. Some people choose to stop treatment for concurrent, unrelated conditions, such as blood pressure or diabetes medications. The natural course of your condition might also make you prone to pneumonia or unable to consume nutrients at some point. You need to decide how you feel about treatment, especially if you are unable to verbalize your feelings. Some people would want treatment for pneumonia because it would reduce discomfort, or they might only want pain controlled if they developed pneumonia and allow the disease to accelerate their decline.
Mental Health Services
A terminal illness is not only a physical concern, but it causes a wide array of emotional issues for you and your loved ones. You should consider integrating any mental health services available as soon as possible. This may include one-on-one and/or family therapy so you and loved ones can openly discuss how they feel about your illness and end-of-life concerns. Some people in hospice care might also benefit from medications to reduce anxiety, depression, or delusions/hallucinations that can make dealing with mortality even harder. Your hospice care should also include any spiritual/religious options if these are your preference. If these services are not readily available, your hospice provider should have resources available for you to consult spiritual advisers.
The concept of a death doula is not new, but you are seeing this option more in hospice care settings. A death doula is a person who acts as a companion and adviser to both you and your family during the final stages of life. Much like a doula may help with the transition of bring a new life into the world, they can help with the transition of dying. In addition to advocating for your end-of-life care, such as palliative treatments and comfort during this process, they are also helpful to loved ones. They may educate loved ones about the dying process, which can make any changes they notice less startling, and they can also help your family with planning final arrangements, if necessary. Many people appreciate having a death doula because it makes the dying process less mysterious to them.
When it is time to receive hospice care, you need to consider other services to give you the most comfortable and helpful experience possible.