Our last blog discussed how families should integrate mental health counseling into their loved one’s hospice and palliative care. After their diagnosis, terminally ill patients are at a higher risk for mental health issues. By providing support to address patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, mental health hospice counseling can offer significant benefits to them and their families.
Here are five ways that mental health counseling can facilitate the hospice care journey.
- Improved quality of life: Hospice care is designed to assist patients with pain and symptom management, increasing their quality of life. Moreover, hospice care workers can provide support and counseling to help patients cope with the emotional challenges of their illness. Understandably, the thought of impending death is distressing to most people. But with some help, patients can find genuine contentment, happiness, and peace during their final days. Mental health care can also help patients to make their end-of-life decisions, mitigating some of the anxiety and stress surrounding those decisions.
- More meaningful relationships with friends and family: When terminally ill patients are also experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, it can disrupt their closest relationships. Hospice represents a period of time when families should enjoy every opportunity to be together, uncomplicated by the side effects of the emotional instability that sometimes accompanies a severe illness.
Hospice care professionals often provide the emotional support needed to facilitate communication and improve relationships. A hospice care counselor can also work with families and friends in preparing for their loved one’s death. Allowing people to share their emotions during hospice can help to ensure their grief is easier to process.
- Fewer physical health complications: As hospice offers personalized, unique support for patients and helps them holistically navigate their everyday lives, physical health complications are less likely to manifest. When terminally ill patients have emotional balance, they are more likely to accept needed care and avoid harmful behaviors and activities. Because of these factors, they can enjoy their remaining time without additional physical worries and complications.
- Appropriately control mental health symptoms: Some people have mental health issues before their diagnosis, and others develop depression or anxiety once they get the news. Hospice provides mental health counseling and support to help patients cope with all of the challenges of their situation, from cognitive concerns to depression and anxiety. Sometimes it is determined that medication is appropriate for treating the individual mental health symptoms related to these disorders.
- Increased dedication to care goals: When patients have trouble coping with their mental health challenges – especially if they are undiagnosed – they are more likely to resist any care goals recommended by their care team. However, identifying and treating patients’ mental health issues can inspire more commitment to these goals. Hospice providers can also assist with making end-of-life decisions that agree with the patient’s wishes, allowing the best and most compassionate quality of care.
When is Hospice Care Appropriate?
Determining the right time to initiate hospice care can be challenging, but it often represents the best decision for patients who are not expected to live beyond the next six months. Mental health and palliative care can work together to offer comfort and coping skills to patients and their families during the grieving process.
If you’re seeking mental health support to complement palliative care, we invite you to schedule a free consultation session with Denise Schonwald. Denise is a caring and compassionate mental health professional dedicated to supporting the emotional and spiritual needs of those who come to her for support.