In-Home Hospice Care for Mesothelioma Patients
One of the tragic facts of mesothelioma is that once diagnosed the average survival time is from 4-18 months. While it can be treated with varying degrees of success through the use of surgical procedures, chemotherapy and radiation, there is still no known cure.
When a mesothelioma patient no longer responds to a prescribed treatment plan, and the primary caregiver needs support caring for their loved one, turning to a hospice program is one option to explore.
Hospice is not a “place” rather a concept of care. According to the Hospice Foundation of America, hospice is designed to improve the quality of a patient’s last days by offering comfort and dignity. In addition, hospice care neither prolongs life nor hastens death. However, it does allow for a patient to remain in their own home surrounded by their loved ones.
One hospice nurse in North Carolina describes her job as “not only helping people meet death but encouraging them to live their last days as fully as possible.”
Hospice programs typically offer a team of professionals including nurses, chaplains, nursing assistants, social workers and bereavement counselors. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization estimates that there are over 4,800 hospice programs in the United Staets. Eighty percent of the hospice care is provided in the patient’s home, family member’s home or in nursing homes.
Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer primarily caused by exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until up to 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos. However, after symptoms become apparent, mesothelioma may rapidly progress to cause life-threatening complications. A hospice nurse can check vital signs, help manage pain, and explain the changes in symptoms a mesothelioma patient is experiencing.