Hospice services provide comprehensive and compassionate health care for patients whose treatments are no longer effective. Patients who no longer wish to be actively treated can also request hospice care. Learn if you qualify for mesothelioma hospice care.
What Is Hospice Care for Mesothelioma?
Hospice care is dedicated to end-of-life care for patients who have stopped active treatment for a medical condition, such as malignant mesothelioma.
It is typically recommended for late-stage cancer patients who no longer qualify for life-extending cancer treatments.
Rather than surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, hospice caregivers focus on symptom management.
Hospice care uses supportive care options like:
- Dietary counseling
- Ongoing medical, nursing, and spiritual support
- Pain management
- Usage of various medical supplies and appliances
Hospice can be beneficial to both the patient and their loved ones. The stress of caring for a terminally ill loved one is reduced with hospice care, and there is an increased focus on things the patient needs to pass away in peace.
U.S. veterans with mesothelioma may be able to receive hospice care for free or at a lower cost if they have the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care plan.
Want to know if mesothelioma hospice care is right for you? Get answers from top doctors by using our 14 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Checklist.
When to Seek Hospice Care for Mesothelioma
Hospice care becomes a viable option once it becomes clear that the disease is advancing and no remission is possible. Active treatment stops, and the focus changes from managing the disease to keeping the mesothelioma patient as comfortable as possible.
The average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients ranges from 12-21 months.
Selecting hospice care means that the focus of treatment has shifted, and pain management and comfort have been chosen over aggressive mesothelioma treatments.
What to Expect During Mesothelioma Hospice Care
Because people in the end stages of mesothelioma often experience pain, it is the goal of the hospice staff to provide the patient with palliative treatments to control the pain.
Doctors often prescribe opioid medications like morphine, which has two main benefits: it helps control pain and improves breathing in mesothelioma patients. The hospice care team can also provide the patient with alternative pain control.
Alternative therapies, such as biofeedback, acupuncture, acupressure, and alternative medications, may be used in place of opioids.
The team will work with the hospice patient to determine the best way to manage their pain.
Hospice care is not just about extending physical care services and pain relief to the patient. Rather, hospice addresses the person's spiritual, emotional, and social needs.
This can involve the mesothelioma patient attending a support group with other hospice patients and their families. The patient could also see a hospice counselor specializing in treating patients at the end of their lives.
Hospice support does not end after the patient passes away. Families can continue to get support after the death of their loved one through hospice-directed spiritual programs, individual counseling for families, support groups, and other bereavement services.
Hospice Care for Pleural Mesothelioma Patients
When a person has mesothelioma, many bodily systems become adversely affected. With pleural mesothelioma, the lungs are affected. Shortness of breath is the most commonly witnessed symptom in hospice care for mesothelioma.
Caregivers who work with mesothelioma patients in hospice understand that this is a problem and know that there are specific techniques for positioning the body so that breathing can be improved. Patients sometimes must sit, stand, or rest in a specific way to maximize airflow.
Hospice Care for Peritoneal Mesothelioma Patients
Mesothelioma patients with peritoneal mesothelioma often have a compromised digestive system. This means that getting enough nutrition and drinking enough fluids becomes a problem.
The hospice workers will try to manage these issues by customizing the patient’s meal plans so that they can get in enough fluids and nutrients.
You can receive hospice care as part of your mesothelioma VA health care benefits if you qualify. Learn about all the benefits and resources available to you by getting our Free Veterans Packet.
How to Enter Hospice Care for Mesothelioma
To pursue hospice care, you must ask your doctor for a referral to a hospice program. Hospice can be used whenever the patient feels like they need extra help after the active treatment of the disease is no longer doing its job.
To learn more about care options for mesothelioma or to find a specialist in your area, get your free Mesothelioma Veterans Packet.
Common Questions: Mesothelioma and Hospice Care
What do mesothelioma hospice care programs help with?
In a hospice program, caregivers focus on symptom management, pain relief, nutrition counseling, and spiritual support services.
Mesothelioma patients and loved ones can find a lot of relief through hospice.
When is the right time to seek mesothelioma hospice care?
While there is no set deadline for when a mesothelioma patient should seek hospice care, most patients turn to hospice care when their bodies have stopped responding to medical treatments.
How do I sign up for a mesothelioma hospice care program?
If you are interested in hospice care, you should talk to your mesothelioma doctor about your needs and concerns. Your doctor can provide you with a referral for a hospice care program that's suitable for you.