Late-Stage Care for Mesothelioma Patients
There is currently no cure for any form of mesothelioma. Because of this, late-stage care can present challenges to both patients and their families if they are not prepared.
The care process can be mentally and emotionally draining, and it can prevent families from thinking into the future. Without proper knowledge, families can be caught off guard during and after late-stage care.
Fortunately, many options exist to help everyone affected during the later stages of mesothelioma. These care options make the patient as comfortable as possible. They also equip families with the resources they will need moving forward. Staying informed on your options before, during and after late-stage care can help you feel more confident in your caregiving decisions.
Hospice care differs from generalized hospital care in that it focuses on providing emotional support and managing pain and uncomfortable symptoms. Hospice care allows family members, nurses, doctors and other medical professionals to work together to make the patient as comfortable as possible.
Mesothelioma treatments are not actively sought during hospice care. This allows the hospice team to provide physical and emotional pain relief to the patient throughout the process.
Outside of pain management, hospice services include:
- Religious services and support (via clergy)
- Medications and treatments for additional illnesses (i.e., blood pressure and diabetes)
- Physical or speech therapy
- Counseling and grief management
- Respite services for family members and primary caregivers
Many patients choose to enter an inpatient hospice center during the later stages of mesothelioma and other illnesses. In these facilities, patients receive round-the-clock care. A specialized team of doctors and nurses ensures patients receive the best care and are comfortable throughout their stay. If a patient wishes, hospice care may also be done at home.
Contrary to popular belief, hospice care does not indicate the end of life. Hospice care is the most prominent choice for people in the last six months of life. However, patients may not need immediate hospice care because each person’s body responds differently to mesothelioma and treatments. Patients may begin hospice care and later decide to continue treatments if their health remains steady for longer than originally thought possible.
No matter what you choose, hospice is a great option due to its comprehensive care system. Due to its focus on pain management, you will feel more comfortable than during your initial treatment phase. Hospice care is covered under Medicare and many other medical insurance plans.
Palliative care seeks to treat and manage significant pain and suffering in patients through medication and other therapy methods. Palliative care also helps manage emotional and social issues or concerns that arise during late-stage care.
Like in hospice care, a coordinated effort between families doctors, nurses and other medical caregivers allows patients to live with as little pain as possible. Medical practitioners who administer palliative care are experts with special certifications to do so.
Palliative care differs from hospice care in that it does not necessary correlate to end of life care. Palliative measures are often undertaken throughout the treatment process to ease patients’ pain or discomfort. As mesothelioma advances through the body, palliative care may become the primary focus as opposed to standardized treatments.
While active treatment of the condition is not the main goal of palliative care, many patients still choose to receive treatments for their condition. This allows patients to keep fighting their battle with mesothelioma with courage and dignity.
Most palliative care is provided in the patient’s home, allowing them to feel at ease in familiar surroundings. Many assisted living homes or long-term care facilities provide palliative care as well. Many inpatient hospices also offer distinct and strictly palliative care services in addition to traditional hospice care.
Where, when and how much palliative care should be provided depends on the patients’ pain level and advancement of the disease. Palliative care can make their immediate ailments and long-term pain issues easier to deal with.
Respite care allows highly qualified caregivers to step in for those providing primary care to patients with mesothelioma. This service helps the immediate family recuperate from the constant health demands that come with treating and managing mesothelioma.
In the early stages of mesothelioma, patients may decide to live at home while they undergo treatments. This can help them adjust to living with mesothelioma. However, their condition may prevent them from caring for themselves. This means their immediate family must provide health care.
As the disease progresses, this care must be administered around the clock. Mesothelioma treatments are necessary for patient survival, but this constant and urgent care can disrupt a family. Providing long-term and frequent care can also cause others to suffer physical or psychological illnesses.
Respite care provides a vital break for families, spouses or friends providing health care to a person with mesothelioma. Nurses and other providers can visit a patient in their home or at a temporary inpatient facility. Select forms of respite care are covered under Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance plans.
Respite care services are often provided in conjunction with both hospice and palliative care services.
Bereavement services help family and friends cope with the loss of their loved one. Because mesothelioma is not often caught until its later stages, families can be caught off guard by a patient’s diagnosis and prognosis. Due to the poor prognosis of these later stages, families may still be processing this shock when the patient passes away. A sudden loss can add to their suffering and even cause health issues in them.
Bereavement services and additional counseling offer family members an outlet to process this loss. They teach coping strategies and proven methods to understand and come to terms with grief. These services can be extremely crucial in preserving a family’s well-being after the death of a loved one.
Many hospices offer bereavement services for family members up to one year after the patient passes. In addition to direct bereavement services, emotional support groups can help people manage their grief. Interacting with others with similar experiences can help you process your grief and retain your health through this difficult time.
Survivor benefits are the financial and physical items that your next of kin will receive after your death. Depending on your situation, your survivors can receive social security benefits, military veterans pensions and other benefits. You can determine how to divide these benefits, along with your finances and physical property, through a will or a trust.
Dividing your assets ahead of time can save your family from internal struggles and additional strife. Outlining how your money will flow after your death allows you to help those who will need it (like your spouse or children). It can also provide philanthropy to important organizations. Further, knowing how your money and property will be divided can give you peace of mind as you seek late-stage care options.