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By Jackie Dover
There are many misconceptions about Hospice; what it does and whom it is for. Some people see hospice as what someone does when they have given up on life or what you do at the last minute as someone is dying. Hospice care is an underutilized program that is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance. Hospice care is for people with a life expectancy of 6 months or less (if the disease runs its normal course) and who chooses compassionate comfort care instead of curative treatment. If you live longer than 6 months, you can still get hospice care, as long as a doctor recertifies that you are still terminally ill. Going on hospice is not giving up; it is about being able to make your own end of life choices.
Hospice care offers a wide array of benefits for the patient.
• Care is given in whatever setting the patient and family are more comfortable.
• A care-plan is developed with the hospice provider, the patient and the family. Everyone’s voice can be heard and the patient and his or her family can have some control during a very chaotic time.
• The plan of care is based on the needs of each patient and their family. This personalization allows the needs of the patient to be met and less stress on family members.
• Hospice can reduce the financial burden on families. Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance cover hospice care. Hospice care can reduce hospitals stays for those receiving care.
• Hospice workers are available 24 hours a day, so if there is an emergency you have someone to call for help and support.
• Families benefit by having educated, caring staff to talk to. The family can continue to receive bereavement support after the death of their family member.
A team that can include doctors, nurses, social workers, volunteers, bereavement counselors, and pastors provides hospice care. These experts work to make sure all aspects of care are addressed. Hospice also includes coverage of needed medical equipment, some prescriptions and many more services. One of the amazing aspects of hospice is that it provides emotional and spiritual support for the patient and their family. These services are provided at a time when most patients and their families need help and support the most, at the end of life.
Many hospice programs also offer palliative care for those who have chronic illnesses or injuries; this program is not dependent upon prognosis. Palliative care works with you, your family and doctors to give you complete care and support in managing your illness. Palliative care can help lower hospital readmission rates, address your emotional and spiritual concerns and those of your caregivers and improve your quality of life during your illness.
If you have questions please contact Aging Matters, 1-800-392-8771, because….Aging Matters.