In general, hospice is a topic people try to avoid. It is associated with death and most humans want to avoid those thoughts completely. In cases where an illness is slow and on-going, families have the opportunity to prepare for death as best as possible. They can use these services, like hospice care, to aid in the process. It can simplify life by bringing doctors directly to patients. It also provides myriad support services for both the patient and their loved ones.
Those eligible for this care, often do not use it. Some people may not use hospice because they are unaware or misunderstand it. Other times, people may not want to because it means ending all attempts to cure a patient.
Here are a few things experts think seniors and their families should know, when the time comes:
- Hospice is not a place but a type of care. Yes, there are some hospice facilities opened by organizations; however, it is a type of comfort care that can be provided in any setting.
- Medicare pays for most of it. Seniors who receive Medicare will find their hospice care is covered almost completely. That coverage includes everything from doctors and nurses to social workers and homemakers. In exchange for this level of coverage, Medicare stops paying for any medical care outside of hospice.
- If you live longer, its okay. Six months or less is the life expectancy required to enter into this care, but estimating a person’s lifespan is an imperfect process. As a result, it’s possible for some people to remain in hospice long after six months have come and gone.
- It isn’t only for those with certain illness. Some people might mistakenly believe hospice is only for those with certain diseases, such as cancer. However, this type of care can be used by people of all ages with terminal illnesses of any kind.
- It is about more than medical care. A critical component is the support services they provide to family members. Organizations are available 24/7 with on-call nurses and doctors who can make home visits at whatever time they are needed. Plus, hospice staff coordinates prescriptions, arranges for respite care and meets other needs families might have.
- Services continue after someone dies. After a person passes away, grief counseling or other bereavement services are offered to family members.
- Care is focused on life, not death. Entering hospice might feel like quitting on life. But those who work in the field say accelerating death is not the focus of this type of care. Instead, it’s intended to help people live fully and comfortably in the time they have left. It is also to support their loved ones through the process.
The biggest takeaway is to remember hospice care is a support system. It is meant to make the patient comfortable and offer other outlets for the loved ones. Rather than feeling like they are at the mercy of a medical process that entails countless appointments and tests, people in hospice care may finally feel like they are back in control of how they live.