10 Things You Need to Know About Hospice
No one likes to think about the end of life, even those in the final stages of a terminal disease. But making efforts toward a peaceful transition can be incredibly comforting to all involved, and that’s where hospice comes in.
Hospice is a philosophy of care that recognizes death as a normal process of life and focuses on maintaining the quality of a patient’s remaining days. And although the concept may sound like a simple one, there’s more to hospice care than meets the eye. The more you know about hospice, the better prepared you’ll be to choose the right hospice caregiver.
Take a look below at the top 10 things you should know about hospice care:
- Relief, Not Treatment
Hospitals focus on curative care, which includes healing injuries and treating illnesses, but hospice stresses palliative care – relief of pain and uncomfortable symptoms of terminal disease. It’s important to note that palliative care doesn’t necessarily mean constant sedation, but rather refers to pain management customized to the patient’s level of discomfort.
- Transition, Not Surrender
A common misconception about hospice care is that it’s equivalent to “giving up,” but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Hospice care aims to give patients a comfortable, dignified transition into the final stage of life. Additionally, research suggests patients who receive hospice care may extend their final days longer than patients who don’t.
- Home Care Advantage
Hospice care allows a patient to remain at home in a familiar environment, surrounded by personal possessions that stimulate memories and provide a sense of comfort.
- Prognosis Counts
A patient is only admitted to hospice care if his or her prognosis is six months or less. But, as death doesn’t follow deadlines, patients are welcome to remain in hospice beyond the six-month period. About a third of hospice patients enroll for less than a week, and the median duration is 18 days.
- Accessible to All
Hospice care is not limited by age or specific disease. Patients of all ages with any kind of terminal illness including cancer, advanced Alzheimer’s, heart disease, lung disease, and HIV/AIDS are welcome to live their remaining days in as much comfort as possible.
- Costs are Covered
Because a fear of high medical costs should never prevent someone from accessing hospice care, Medicare, Medicaid (in most states), and many private insurance plans cover almost all hospice services. It’s important to note, though, that most insurers will not pay for any further medical care outside of hospice, which falls in line with hospice’s palliative care philosophy.
- Team Approach
Along with family and friends, hospice care teams may include the patient’s regular doctor, other physicians, social workers, home health aids, physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, dieticians, bereavement counselors, and spiritual advisors. Of course, the most important team member is the patient, who will retain control of all medical decisions as long as he or she is able.
- Comprehensive Service
Hospice aids — whether in-home or facility-based — provide more than assistance with bathing, dressing and cooking. They also offer companionship (playing cards and games, reading, crafting) and conversation (current events, entertainment favorites, reminiscing about the past), and often provide relief to the patient’s loved ones as well.
- Tying Up Loose Ends
With pain and symptoms under control, terminally ill patients will have an opportunity to attend to end-of-life concerns such as financial and legal arrangements. Those in hospice care will also be able to say goodbye to family and friends, make time to reflect, and take inventory of their accomplishments and special memories.
- Counseling is Available
Hospice counselors are highly educated in concepts related to death and dying and are skilled in stress management and sensitive communication. As such, they can provide guidance and support for patients and their loved ones for the duration of care. Hospice care also includes bereavement counseling, and Medicare covers follow-up grief support for up to a year.
Thinking about hospice care? We can help.
At Avalon Home Care in Carlsbad, we’re happy to work with Medicare or the hospice facility of your choice, offering hourly assistance or live-in care when around-the-clock support is needed. In addition to helping with practical tasks, our trained and compassionate caregivers are experts at providing emotional or spiritual support as requested.
If you’re considering hospice care, give us a call to set up your free, in-home consultation. We would be honored to help provide peace and comfort for you and your loved one during this sensitive time.