In its final stages, congestive heart disease can be extremely unpredictable. The frequency and severity of symptoms often vary, making it difficult at times to determine life expectancy and the need for hospice care. Patients with heart disease often experience a recurring cycle of decline, followed by a rebound improvement of symptoms. This means that many patients may miss out on the vital physical and emotional support that hospice provides.
Here are some indications that hospice may be considered for a patient with end-stage heart disease:
- The patient has already received optimal treatment for their condition and is not a candidate for further surgical or medical intervention.
- The patient’s heart is abnormal, and they are suffering from significant shortness of breath at rest, functional decline, and/or significant symptoms of fatigue.
- The patient has advanced coronary disease or congestive heart failure with frequent angina episodes.
- The patient has already tried optimal treatments and has decided they do not wish to pursue additional treatment.
Keep in mind that only a physician can make the clinical determination that a patient’s life expectancy is six months or less, which is required for hospice care.
However, it is important to be vigilant and ask your loved one’s physician about hospice when these signs are present, because the earlier a patient begins receiving this care, the better their quality of life can be.
What Does Hospice Do for Heart Disease Patients?
The objective of hospice care is to manage patients’ symptoms and relieve their emotional and physical distress to provide maximum comfort and promote quality of life in their final days. The hospice care team also educates the patient and family regarding what to expect as the disease progresses and how to provide the best possible care to manage symptoms and promote comfort.
Address Physical Symptoms
Hospice can address symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, functional decline, chest pain, shortness of breath, and hypertension, all of which are common in patients with heart disease.
A large part of ensuring patient comfort involves management of pain. Hospice teams monitor patients to assess their levels of pain and help them find appropriate methods of pain relief so they can enjoy their life as much as possible as their disease progresses.
Hospice teams also communicate with patients’ physicians regarding their symptoms and can provide medications related to their terminal condition. Hospice can also provide medical equipment, including oxygen, if necessary and appropriate for their terminal condition.
Provide Emotional and Spiritual Assistance
Hospice offers numerous approaches to assist patients and families with their emotional and spiritual well-being. For example, volunteers are available to provide companionship and social support in various ways. Spiritual professionals are also available to discuss spiritual issues with patients in ways that align with their faith. Social Workers are available to assist patients and families with the social, emotional, and practical challenges that often accompany a terminal condition.
Allow Patients to Remain at Home
One of the primary advantages of hospice care is that it enables patients to remain where they feel most comfortable while they receive assistance. Hospice care can be provided in a patient’s own home, in the home of a family member or caregiver, or in a care facility.
Help Families of Patients
Watching the health of a loved one decline can be extremely difficult for caregivers and families. Thus, the emotional support provided by hospice extends to family members as well. Outlined below is a look at some of the components involved in family support.
Assist With Decisions
Families of hospice patients often face difficult decisions regarding their care and quality of life. Hospice teams can help provide guidance and resources to assist in making these difficult decisions.
Caring for a patient with an end-stage terminal condition can often be challenging and tiring. Many hospices offer a limited amount of inpatient care so that caregivers can take some time to themselves to deal with family or work responsibilities or simply get some much-needed rest so they can return to their caregiving duties with a fresh perspective.
Emotional And Spiritual Support
Hospice helps patients and families cope with the often-overwhelming emotions that accompany this challenging time in their lives. For surviving family members, hospice offers bereavement services for as long as one year following the passing of a loved one, to assist in coping with the grief that accompanies the loss.
Reach Out to Our Supportive Hospice Care Team
If your loved one is dealing with end-stage heart disease or heart failure and their condition is worsening, contact Traditions Health to find out how our care services can improve your loved one’s overall quality of life as their illness progresses.
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