Summary, Death and dying are difficult topics for people to discuss, which makes an end of life care harder for patients and caregivers. Hospice is often considered the last resort for someone who has six months or less to live. Many people, however, don’t truly understand what Hospice is, how it works, or what it provides.
When someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it can be a devastating blow to them and the people who care about them. Oftentimes, the emphasis is on trying to cure the disease and prolong life. When Hospice care is suggested, people tend to think that it is the end and that they’re giving up on themselves or their loved one. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Hospice is neither a sign of giving up nor is it always the end. It is, instead, an extension of the care already being provided and in some instances, it’s the beginning of a new, healthy chapter in a person’s life.
What Is Hospice Care?
The best way to describe Hospice care is that it’s a form of health care that focuses on quality of life for the patient and their caregivers. It is designed to provide comfort to those who are experiencing life-limiting, advanced illnesses such as end-stage cancer, advanced dementia, ALS, renal failure, neurological disorders, and many other conditions.
Qualifying for Hospice Care
Generally speaking, Hospice care is appropriate for people who have been diagnosed with an illness or disease that limits their life expectancy to six months or less. It is important to understand, however, that doctors and other professionals have no real idea of how long a person may actually live.
The limited-time diagnosis is based on the average time a person who has the disease lives. Since every person is unique, there is no way anyone can say for sure how long someone will live, even with advanced disease.
Hospice Care Does Not Mean Treatment Stops
One of the most common misconceptions about hospice care is that the patient no longer receives any medical treatment. While attempts to cure a disease, such as cancer, may be terminated because the cancer is getting worse, the individual still receives medical care.
Hospice provides what is referred to as comfort care, to help alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease with drugs, therapy, and other treatments. The intention is not to reverse the disease, but rather to help the person feel more comfortable
Hospice Can Help a Person Live Longer and Happier
Pain and other symptoms can have a dramatic effect on the way that a person feels. When someone is in serious pain, for example, they just want the pain to end and death may seem like the only answer. Hospice not only focuses on relieving pain it also focuses on the emotional well-being of the individual.
When symptoms are controlled and the person feels better and happier, their outlook on life improves and that may have an effect on how long they live. In fact, experts claim that Hospice can extend the life of a patient by 29 days.
Most People Wait Too Long for Hospice Care
Patients, their families, and even doctors sometimes have a difficult time admitting that Hospice is an option. They focus instead on trying to find a cure for the disease and often opt for invasive surgeries, drugs, and other aggressive treatments. It is common for people to wait until the very end before they seek the assistance of Hospice professionals.
The truth is, the sooner Hospice becomes involved, the easier it is for everyone to navigate the process. Hospice provides care services for the final six months of life. Sadly, however, many people only remain in Hospice for an average of seven days.
Hospice Does Not Have to Be Permanent
Signing up for Hospice care doesn’t mean that an individual cannot pursue curative care in the future. It’s actually the opposite, the patient always remains in control of their own care. If a person decides that they want to begin treatment for their disease at any point, they can do so.
Hospice care will stop at that point and the attention will shift back to other treatment options. However, If treatments do not work, or the person changes their mind again, they can opt to re-enter Hospice care as long as they still qualify.
Most Hospice Care Occurs at Home
In the vast majority of cases, Hospice care begins while a person is still living in their own home. Not only does this provide them with the comfort of being surrounded by the things and people they love, but it also makes it easier for the family.
If the patient requires in-patient or 24-hour care, they may be moved to a Hospice facility, nursing home, or hospital where Hospice care continues. Patients may also be temporarily moved to a facility to provide respite for caregivers. These temporary stays may last a few days, providing.
Hospice Isn’t Just for the Patient
While Hospice is focused on providing care for an ill individual, the services they offer do not stop there. Hospice workers also provide valuable support for family members and caregivers. Hospice staff will meet with the family to discuss their concerns, answer questions, and help them through the process.
They also provide respite services so that caregivers can get a break. After death, Hospice workers provide bereavement services to help families cope with the loss of their loved one.
Insurance Covers Hospice Care
Although money is the last thing on a person’s mind when they’re very ill, financial responsibilities are very real. Unlike many other treatments, Medicaid, Medicare, and most private insurance policies cover 100 percent of the cost of Hospice care. There are no co-pays and everything that the patient needs is provided including medications, equipment, and nursing care.
Care, Comfort, and Compassion
A terminal diagnosis isn’t easy for a person or their loved ones to accept and it can be difficult to handle the situation with grace. Hospice care helps to provide the care, comfort, and compassion that everyone needs during such a trying, difficult time. It’s important for patients and their caregivers to understand that talking about Hospice isn’t about giving up or not caring.
It truly is about helping people get the most out of the time that they have left. It’s also about helping caregivers, family, and friends to understand and work through the process of death in a safe, caring atmosphere.
What You Should Know About Hospice Care