The national magazine “U.S. News & World Report” recently featured an article called “10 Things Seniors Should Know About Hospice”. When families have time to prepare for the death of a loved one, hospice can make life easier. Hospice professionals can help you understand the nature of an illness, the likely outcome of the current course of treatment, and what will happen next. Many may not use hospice because they are unaware of its benefits and misunderstand how it really works.
Here are 10 things you should know.
Hospice is not a place, it is a type of care: Hospice care is provided to a patient and their family wherever they call ‘home”( assisted living, nursing facility, group/care home, or a private residence). Some hospices have inpatient facilities, however, these are not meant as a solution to permanent residency.
Medicare Hospice Benefit :For those who have Medicare Part A insurance, hospice services are covered 100%. This includes home physician visits, nursing/cna visits, medications, medical supplies and equipment, social work, spiritual, volunteer, and counseling/bereavement services.
Qualification: To be eligible for hospice services you must be certified by a physician to have a life expectancy of six months or less if your life-limiting illness runs its expected, natural course. This is based upon your physician’s best estimates looking at your prognosis.
If you surpass the 6 months, it’s ok: Living longer than six months doesn’t mean the patient loses the benefit. After the initial certification period (2, 90-day periods), each beneficiary receives an unlimited number of additional 60-day periods.
Illnesses aren’t limited: Although hospices serve a majority of individuals diagnosed with cancer, other terminal and life-limiting diagnosis are also accepted. Such as, Alzheimer’s/Dementia, Parkinson’s, CHF, COPD, end end-stage kidney disease to name a few.
There are so many benefits to hospice besides medical care: Hospice services not only support the patient but also family members, care givers and loved- ones too. The hospice team treats each individual as a whole-physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Support continues after your loved-one passes: Grief support services are still available to those in need following a loved-ones death. CompassionCare offers bereavement for up to 13 months.
It is YOUR choice which hospice you want: There are thousands of hospice agencies nationwide. Even though some may be recommended by a physician or other medical staff, it is ultimately your decision on which hospice you want to oversee your care.
Hospice is becoming more transparent: Our government is moving toward Medicare being responsible for publishing quality measures for hospice organizations-similar to those available publicly in nursing homes.
Hospice focuses on LIVING :“Quality of life” is what hospice is all about. What matters most may not be more time, but the ability to more fully enjoy the time we have left with those we love.