When someone you love requires end-of-life medical care, hospice can provide a compassionate solution. Still, it has it’s challenges, and it’s not for everyone. Learning a bit about it will help you decide if it’s the right option for your situation.
What Is Hospice?
Hospice is a type of medical support service that focuses not on finding a cure, but rather on comfort, quality of life and the maintenance of personal dignity even in death. Although hospice is available in hospitals and specialized centers, it is more commonly provided in residential homes. Good hospice providers usually are more than happy to work with you in whatever setting fits your circumstances.
Good Candidates for Hospice
Hospice care is meant for those who, according to a qualified physician, are expected to live for six months or less. People who receive it usually have an injury or illness that severely limits their ability to care for themselves. A high number of hospice patients are elderly or those with cancer, but most hospice companies work with individuals of any age and are trained to address a full range of diagnoses.
In most cases, hospice care is very much a collaborative effort. It can involve physicians, nurses, social workers, religious officials, occupational therapists, pharmacists and other individuals such as volunteers, depending on your circumstances. This team approach ensures that, through the continual sharing of information and application of specialized skills, you can plan and provide meaningful, effective and well-rounded care, addressing emotional, spiritual, mental and physical needs.
Hospice may include some or all of the following services:
- Medical, spiritual or bereavement counseling
- Pain management
- Provision of necessary medical supplies, including over-the-counter or prescription drugs
- Arrangement for inpatient care if necessary
- Meetings with family to discuss the condition of the person being cared for
- Respite care ( provides hours or days off for primary caregiver, usually a family member)
Importantly, even though the main focus of hospice is to care for your loved one, these hospice services are meant to support you, too. They can provide the opportunity for you to talk about your feelings, rest, learn about your loved one’s condition and much more. They are not cut off if your loved one lives longer than six months, and some support, such as bereavement counseling, can extend for over a year following your loved one’s death. We encourage you to enroll your loved one in hospice care even if they do not yet have severe symptoms, as the added support can be extremely beneficial for everyone involved in the emotional and spiritual acceptance of the situation.
Hospice care services are included under most private insurance plans, as well as by Medicaid and Medicare. The exact amount covered, however, can vary. Talk with your provider to make sure you know what your financial responsibilities are.
Hospice care is a viable solution for people who want to live their final days with a solid support network and to enjoy the comforts of home. It can be tailored to your situation and, in most cases, is covered under insurance plans. If you are still unsure of whether hospice is right for you, seek additional advice from a physician or reputable hospice provider.