Watching our parents age presents us with a great many challenges. You may find yourself struggling to determine just what your loved ones need as they age. They may downplay their needs to avoid losing their independence or becoming a burden. It is often hard for people to ask for help. Sometimes, the hardest truths to see are the ones closest to us. Additionally, you may feel obligated to help them yourself, but feel ill prepared and unable. Add in a life-threatening illness and it becomes that much harder. As a result, determining if it’s time hospice care for aging parents can be difficult.

The truth is that our loved ones may need more assistance than we can provide on our own. Complex medical conditions and multiple medications can make it even more stressful and overwhelming. You may find that you’re not only providing help but are suddenly responsible for managing their health and even their lives. As you navigate your new role, it is important to understand that there are resources available to you and your loved ones. You do not have to manage your aging parent’s life limiting health condition alone. Home health and hospice care may be just what is needed.

But how do you know when it is time to seek hospice care? Most families wait too long to investigate and begin hospice care. You know your aging parents better than anyone. So, take a step back and ask yourself some hard questions about their health and their situation. The answers will help you to determine if it is time for hospice care.

Here are eight signs that it may be time for hospice care:

1. Their medical condition can no longer be treated, or they have decided against further treatment.
The treatments for conditions like cancer, lung disease, kidney failure, dementia, and heart disease can be hard on the body and soul. Sometimes individuals decide to stop treatment. While this can be hard to face, hospice care can help ensure that your parents are cared for and comfortable as their condition progresses. Hospice care is typically certified by a doctor when the patient is no longer seeking treatment and has less than six months to live if the disease progresses as expected.

2. Hospital and doctor visits are increasing.
As your loved ones age and their health deteriorates, you may find that they need to visit the doctor or emergency room more often. They may experience more infections or experience new symptoms. Hospice care provides you with professional healthcare staff that come to your loved one, at home or in a facility. This is especially helpful when it is getting difficult for your loved one to make trips to doctors appointments.

3. They are unable to care for themselves.
As individuals age, it can be harder for them to carry out their activities of daily living (ADLs). Tthe results can be devastating. If you are trying to maintain your own home and care for your own family, it can be difficult to be responsible for another person’s daily activities. Hospice health care staff can assist your loved ones with bathing, dressing, and eating.

4. Their condition is progressing, and their symptoms are harder to manage.
Many individuals facing life limiting diseases such as cancer will experience significant pain as the disease progresses. Other conditions may need to be monitored more closely to provide the most comfort. Hospice health care staff will have the capability to treat your loved ones’ pain and other symptoms to ensure they are as comfortable as possible.

Hospice health care professionals can recognize the signs and symptoms of many complications including pain and the uncomfortable constipation that often accompanies the use of pain medication. This allows them to offer relief even when your loved one hesitates to ask for help. The dementia patient may need medication adjustments to address behaviors and comfort. Patients with lung disease may need monitoring of their need for supplemental oxygen or medication to reduce shortness of breath. The hospice provider can give you and your loved one this kind of ongoing medication management.

5. They have a decreased appetite or are experiencing unexplained weight loss.
If your loved one has unexpectedly lost weight or doesn’t seem to be eating, this can be a sign that their health is deteriorating. It may be hard for you to manage their diet and monitor their intake. Hospice home health care can be instrumental in assessing any digestive issues that they may be experiencing.

6. They are sleeping or resting more often.
The body has a way of letting us know when it is slowing down. As your loved one’s condition progresses, they will likely sleep or rest more and more.

7. Your loved one is no longer able to communicate their needs.
The heartbreaking reality of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia is that your loved one may no longer be able to communicate effectively with you. Hospice care is the best way you can ensure the provision of skilled and compassionate care to your loved one.

8. You are experiencing caregiver fatigue.
Being a full-time caregiver is exhausting, and even more so if you are also trying to keep up with your other family and work responsibilities. Hospice health care allows you to ensure your loved one is cared for by a team of healthcare professionals. This allows while you to juggle the rest of your responsibilities. You will be provided with much needed emotional and spiritual support to help you cope with caregiver stress.

Is it time?
Admitting that you need hospice care for your loved ones may feel like you are admitting defeat, but the opposite is true. Utilizing hospice health care will place their care in the hands of trained healthcare professionals. While they provide quality, compassionate medical care, you will be free to provide the ongoing emotional support they need. Instead of managing medications, procuring medical equipment, spending your time waiting on hold with doctor’s offices, enduring major outings just to get your parent to each doctor appointment – you can “be present” for the one you love.

Watching our loved ones at the end of their lives can be excruciating. It’s only made worse by managing the details of it all. Partnering with hospice care enables you to have assistance to guide your loved one through their last months, weeks, or days. It can provide you with peace of mind that they are receiving the care that they need to be as comfortable as possible. Making the choice to utilize hospice care will ensure that you and your family have the care, support, and resources that are needed. Contact us to see if we can help guide you through that choice.