The holidays are a time for families to come together and share the joys of life, but for families faced with making a decision about hospice care, the holiday season could also bring extra stress. The desire to put off a decision about entering hospice until after the holidays is a natural one, but starting hospice care during the holidays could actually provide extra support, reduce stress and let the whole family focus on love and togetherness instead.
Holiday Hospice Care at Home
One big concern about hospice during the holidays is where care should take place. Three Oaks Hospice provides care wherever a patient calls home, which could mean their own home, a relative, or even a senior living facility. In-home hospice care is coordinated by the hospice provider in consultation with the patient’s regular physician.
Because the focus of hospice care is to reduce pain, manage symptoms and make the patient as comfortable as possible, entering hospice at this time can help a terminally ill patient enjoy the holiday season without excess discomfort or distress. Having reliable hospice staff members provide support to help with bathing, grooming and personal care gives hospice families peace of mind knowing their loved one is being kept comfortable and makes the patient feel confident about being around relatives and friends during the holiday season.
Hospice Care Provides Stress Relief During the Holidays
During the holidays, there are so many things to coordinate that family members can quickly become overwhelmed when they need to care for a terminally ill loved one as well. Hospice care helps relieve that burden, freeing up family caregivers to focus on the things that really matter.
Hospice nurses, home health aides and volunteers who come to your loved one’s home may notice health or medical changes that need attention. One goal of hospice is to keep terminally ill patients out of the hospital and in their own homes as much as possible. Having hospice care on call any time of day or night reduces the possibilities of a late-night emergency room trip that could derail holiday festivities.
Even the simple companionship offered by a hospice volunteer helps reduce stress. Hospice volunteers can sit with the patient and offer lively conversation or engage in a friendly card game. Family members can take care of necessary holiday preparations while knowing their loved one isn’t left lonely during all the activities.
Families may also feel stress that this is likely the last holiday they’ll spend with their terminally ill loved one. In some cases, the illness may progress more quickly than expected, and relatives might be left grieving during the time they hoped to be celebrating one final holiday with their loved one. The hospice care team includes clergy and bereavement counselors who help family members work through their grief so relatives get the support they need. Bereavement Counselors are available to meet with a patient’s family throughout the hospice process and even 13 months after the passing of a loved one.
How Holiday Hospice Care Works
Hospice care works the same way during the holidays as it does the rest of the year. A team of compassionate, caring health care professionals and volunteers come to the patient’s home to help with personal care, assist with household tasks and provide companionship. Because hospice care is individualized and tailored to the needs of the patient, care schedules can be adjusted to work around special holiday events or rituals, such as family dinners or visits with grandchildren.
Taking care of a terminally ill relative often leads to burnout, especially during the busy holiday season. If the stress of caretaking leaves you feeling overwhelmed, your loved one’s hospice care team can provide respite care for a brief period to let you step away and take care of your own needs while knowing your relative is in good hands.
Medicaid, Medicare and many private insurance plans offer coverage for hospice care, so getting in-home hospice services during the holidays could also provide financial relief. Money and time previously spent on making the patient comfortable can be put toward giving your loved one a special, memorable holiday season surrounded by friends and family members.
Entering Hospice Care Before the Holidays
Entering hospice care before the holidays are in full swing helps families adjust to the process and get to know the hospice care team before family members begin to gather in earnest. The earlier you get started, the more the hospice team can help your family prepare for the upcoming holiday season.
That doesn’t mean you should put off considering hospice care until after the holidays if the celebrations have already begun. Even starting hospice care in the middle of the holidays provides benefits for the patient and family members that can make the season less stressful.
Celebrating the Holidays with a Family Member in a Hospice Setting
Family members faced with a terminally ill loved one may feel extra pressure to have a perfect or ideal holiday experience. Letting go of this expectation can make the holidays easier for everyone. Instead of focusing on getting everything exactly right, put the focus on enjoying the special moments spent together as a family.
Part of creating memories during what’s expected to be the final holiday season with your loved one involves capturing the moment in photos or on video. Documenting your holiday might feel like an additional duty for those already preparing holiday meals and shopping, especially if caregiving is also in the schedule. Relying on the hospice care team to handle the day-to-day necessities of care gives you more time and energy to create and capture those special moments.
No matter what traditions or rituals your family chooses to participate in this holiday season, choosing to enter into hospice care before the holiday season has ended can help ensure your loved one can be part of the festivities. If you’re considering hospice care for your loved one during the holidays, contact Three Oaks Hospice for more information about how our hospice team can help your family during this special time of year.