What Are the Disadvantages of Hospice Care?

Health Visitor Giving Senior Woman Medication In Bed
A female hospice nurse gives medication to a senior female patient in bed. (Image: Mark Bowden/iStock/Getty Images)

Hospice care is a form of supervised care that allows terminally ill individuals to be as comfortable as possible in the final days of their life. Hospice care is not a form of hospitalized care that prolongs or shortens the life of an individual, but instead attempts to maximize the pleasure and comfort of an individual as their body gradually concedes to their illness. But there are disadvantages that come with hospice care.

Treatment Ceases Efforts to Cure

The key difference between hospice care and hospitalization is the mindset used when administering treatments. In a hospital, doctors may do everything possible to prolong the life of an individual in hopes that a cure can be figured out, or that the person's body may experience a revival and beat the odds against the disease. When a person or family opts for hospice care, they essentially concede that the disease is going to take the life of the individual. Rather than continue to fight and possible experience discomfort resulting from these efforts, hospice care creates a comfortable situation that allows a terminally ill individual to be at peace and comfortable as their life winds down. Ultimately, this can provide a more satisfying end to a person's life, but it also eliminates the possibility that medications or treatments can bring the person back.

Time-Consuming And Exhausting

While a hospice organization will provide you with the equipment necessary to arrange a hospice bed and provide full hospice care to the terminally ill individual, many times the responsibility of caring for the sick individual falls on a loved one. Paid nurses are an option, but they are often not covered by insurance, while most of the costs associated with hospice care are covered. Family members who choose to administer hospice care on their own can experience fatigue associated with the care. The tasks of feeding, bathing and checking up on an individual in hospice care can be a full-time job on its own. Furthermore, the task takes no holidays or weekends off, and will continue until the individual dies.

Emotional Strain

When a family chooses to put a loved one in hospice care, they must come to terms with the fact that the individual is going to die, usually in or around six months. The struggle of having to see the individual dying, without any hope of recourse, can be emotionally draining. This strain can be compounded by the emotional grief of having to care for the individual, particularly when the large time commitment to hospice care can cause the caregiver to associate the death of the terminally ill person with a sense of relief, having a burden lifted off them. Caregivers may also be forced to eliminate other activities from their routine schedule, which can be demoralizing and stressful.

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