Mesothelioma is often terminal, and most victims cannot be cured. The typical life expectancy for patients with asbestos cancer is only a year, with only 10% of patients living five years (Healthcarefirst.com). If you are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease, you may live longer.
If you or a loved one is living with mesothelioma, caring for yourself or a loved one might be overwhelming. As mesothelioma gets worse, and the symptoms increase, hospice care may be the only choice. Below is information about hospice care for people living with mesothelioma cancer. (Crhcf.org)
Why Should You Consider Hospice Care?
Hospice care is available for many people living with a terminal disease and usually is available for people who are projected to live six months or less. Asbestos cancer patients and loved ones may opt for hospice care when the priority goes from fighting cancer to making sure the patient is comfortable.
Hospice care includes social, medical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of cancer treatment. Hospice care facilities usually have an on-call nurse and aides, as well as a doctor. These healthcare professionals provide 24-hour, compassionate care for people whose diseases will not respond to treatment.
Remember that deciding on hospice care does not mean you are giving up on yourself or your family member. It only means the goal of cancer treatment has shifted. Hospice care is intended to make the victim comfortable from a physical and emotional standpoint.
Hospice Care Components
Key aspects of hospice care for most diseases, including mesothelioma, are: (Cancer.gov)
- Doctor and nursing care. Includes medication management, checking vital signs, and pain management.
- Medical equipment and supplies.
- Caregiving, such as helping with daily tasks of living, such as household chores, dressing, eating, and personal hygiene.
- Counseling for diet.
- Spiritual support for patients who want it.
- Social work services
- Grief support and counseling
How Hospice Care Benefits Mesothelioma Cancer Victims
Hospice care plans vary depending on the person and the disease. Each hospice plan is designed for the individual. Professionals in hospice care know the challenges and symptoms of mesothelioma. They will treat the patient to ensure the maximum degree of comfort.
For many patients living with asbestos cancer, the respiratory system is ravaged by disease. Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include extreme difficulty breathing, chronic dry coughing, and pain in the ribs and chest. (Cancer.org). A hospice nurse or doctor will be educated on positioning techniques that help the patient to sleep, sit, and stand easier to increase airflow and reduce pain.
Digestive problems can make it challenging for people living with asbestos cancer to get enough fluids and nutrients. Hospice care often includes a dietitian who makes sure the cancer patient eats a healthy diet and gets enough fluids.
But of all the things hospice care can provide, possibly the biggest benefit is emotional and social support. These medical professionals have received training that takes into account the patient’s needs by offering supportive care and companionship. Support groups may be available to the patient and family. Counseling services also are available for family members who have lost a loved one to mesothelioma.
Where Hospice Care Is Given
Most hospice agencies provide care in your home. But hospice care also can be given by independent or free-standing facilities that are designed to give hospice care. There also are hospice programs based in nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living centers. Some hospice agencies offer care in a facility and your home.
Whatever the hospice setting, the care is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Your doctor, case manager, or social worker can help you decide which type of program is best for you.
If you receive mesothelioma hospice care at home, know that you will probably have a medical care professional with you 24 hours a day. This can be a challenge for people who live by themselves or adult children with full-time jobs. But for most people, proper scheduling and teamwork among loved ones and friends can deal with this problem.
Hospice care starts when you are admitted into the program, which means a hospice care professional comes to your home and learns about your cancer and needs. They might visit you in the hospital if you choose hospice care but have not been sent home. Once you are at home, your primary physician will set up physical care or schedule people to assist with your care. The hospice organization may find volunteers to stay with you as needed, too.
More Key Aspects of Hospice Care for Mesothelioma Cancer Victims
- Hospice care can be offered for months. Although many people think that hospice is only offered for the last days or weeks of life, it can provide care for months. Many people living with asbestos cancer and their families often say they wish hospice care had been started sooner. People are surprised by the expert medical care and understanding they receive in hospice care. (gov)
- To handle around the clock crises or needs, an on-call nurse is available who can answer calls anytime. They also can visit the home as needed or send out a team member you need during an emergency.
- Your physician must certify your eligibility. Most health insurance plans, including Medicare, cover hospice care for mesothelioma patients when they get a statement by your doctor and the medical director for the hospice center that you will live six months or less. You also need to sign a document saying you are opting for hospice care. Care can continue if you live for more than six months if your doctor recertifies your medical condition.
- Medicare, most Medicaid, and private insurance pay for mesothelioma hospice care. You can contact Medicare or Medicaid to determine what is covered for hospice care for your condition. For private health insurance, contact your insurance company. A hospice social worker also may be able to assist you.
If you have mesothelioma cancer and your prognosis is poor, hospice care can greatly improve your comfort and quality of life. Speak to your physician about hospice care to determine if this is a good choice for you.