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Hospice Care

It is unfortunate that many people who died in a hospital emergency room or who received heroic treatments to prolong life in a hospital or nursing home may have had the alternative of dying at home in familiar surroundings, with family or other loved ones at their side.

Most often when it becomes apparent that there is really no hope for recovery, a family calls 911 and starts a process which can result in great stress and great emotional discomfort. The loved one who is dying ends up in a hospital or nursing home in a strange environment, frightened and confused and tied to tubes and monitoring devices. Given the option, this is not how most of us would choose to spend our last hours on earth.

Attending to a dying loved one in the peace and quiet of the home with caring family close at hand can be a comforting and even spiritual experience for all involved. Hospice can allow this to happen. Memories of a loved one passing in peace can provide great comfort for family members in years to come.

When there is no longer hope for prolonging life and especially when the decision is made months in advance, hospice is a viable alternative to other medical intervention.

Hospice care is a valuable service and is generally underused except for terminal cancer patients. Most families wait too long to have their doctor prescribe hospice from Medicare. Doctors or families don’t often consider this care alternative for Alzheimer’s, degenerative old age or other debilitating illnesses where a person is going downhill fast. They should.

Good Hospice Care:

  • Manages the patient’s pain and symptoms
  • Assists the patient with the emotional and psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying
  • Provides needed medications, medical supplies, and equipment
  • Coaches the family on how to care for the patient
  • Delivers special services like speech and physical therapy when needed
  • Makes short-term inpatient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or the caregiver needs respite time
  • Provides bereavement care and counseling to surviving family and friends.

A person can receive hospice from Medicare if:

  1. He or She is eligible for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance), and
  2. The doctor and the hospice medical director certify that the person is terminally ill and probably has less than six months to live, and
  3. The person or a family member signs a statement choosing hospice care instead of routine Medicare covered benefits for the terminal illness, and
  4. Care is received from a Medicare-approved hospice program.

A person may continue to receive regular Medicare benefits from his or her customary doctors for conditions not related to the hospice condition.

Good planning is critical. Good planning leads to more options, more control and greater peace of mind. However, good planning is no accident. All of these decisions and options are best discussed well in advance. To secure your peace of mind as well as your family’s future, get started now.