The REAL Truth About Hospice. Everything you need to know before making that decision. Don’t wait until it is too late.
As an RN I worked for Hospice for 5 years. Those were some of the most rewarding years of my 40 year career.
Enrolling in hospice care early helps loved ones live better and live longer. Hospice care decreases the burden on family, decreases the family’s likelihood of having a complicated grief and prepares family members for their loved one’s death. Hospice care is designed to provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families when the illness cannot be cured.
No one wants to think about losing someone they love. For that reason, many families delay discussions about end-of-life care. If you are asking yourself when to call hospice, there is a good chance your loved one may already be eligible to receive this added layer of uniquely specialized care and support. Even if your loved one is not currently eligible for hospice care, gathering information about when you should call hospice before a crisis hits will give you time to understand the different options available and determine the best fit for your family.
Hospice is a Blessing not a Burden
Cost: Hospice is free for the terminally ill. Hospice gets paid 100% through your insurance, medicaid, or medicare benefits. Most agencies will take the terminally ill even if they have no means to pay. Hospice does not pay for a place to stay except for a short period of time for pain management. Hospice also allows a patient to be cared for in a facility for a period of time, not because the patient needs it, but because the family caregiver needs a break. This is known as respite care.
Who qualifies: Two physicians, the attending physician and the hospice medical director, must certify the patient is terminally ill, with a six-month or less life expectancy if the disease takes its normal course. But hospice care can be provided for as long as the person’s doctor and hospice care team certify that the condition remains life-limiting. I have had patients on Hospice for several years. A person needs to be home bound, meaning a taxing effort to get out of their home. Hospice care is for people of any age and at any stage in an illness, whether that illness is curable, chronic, or life-threatening. I have had very young and very old patients. If you or a loved one are suffering from symptoms of a disease or disorder, be sure to ask your current physician if he/she thinks you or your loved one may qualify. Hospice does not cover 24 hour care but they are always available for an emergency.
Symptoms your loved one may need Hospice: Frequent visits to the ER or hospital admissions. A decline in their ability to perform daily tasks including eating, getting dressed, walking, or using the bathroom. An increase in falls. Changes to their mental abilities. Progressive weight lose. Skin tears, infections, and other signs of deteriorating health.
Pain management: Hospice covers ALL medication. They work very hard with a doctor to manage pain.
The Hospice staff includes:
Doctors – who oversees medications and oversees the nurses and to assure the best care possible.
Nurses -Who usually visit once a week or more often if needed.
Home Health Aids– Who usually visit 3 times a week for personal care.
Counselors– Who usually visit one a month.
Pharmacist– Where medication can be received 24 hours a day if needed.
Social Workers– Who assist with any problems and comfort measures.
Bereavement Counselors – To help with the end of life decision. Yes, Hospice helps even after your loved one has passed away.
Volunteers – Who will sit with a patient, while you get a break. Sometimes even while you take a short vacation.
Hospice staff is available 24 hours a day.
Does my loved one have to stay on Hospice? No, they are free to op-out at any time. For instance, if they fall and break a leg, they can still go to the emergency room then may go to a rehab center. Their previous insurance will take back over. They can re-enroll when they return home. Please notify Hospice immediately.
As you can see I am a strong supporter. The end of life does not have to be a burden or painful.
Don’t wait to call Hospice the very last days of a loved ones life. They offer support throughout the terminal illness.
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