Many people hear the words “hospice support” and immediately have uncomfortable images of death and dying. They may be afraid to inquire further about this type of care for their senior, leaving the real nature of hospice a mystery – and all its advantages left unexplored.
But the truth is, hospice offers many benefits – both for the senior and his or her family. Read on to find out just a few ways in which hospice can make a heartbreaking time a little bit easier.
How hospice support can help
Below is a sample of some of the main benefits hospice support can offer:
- Reduced anxiety and fear surrounding the end of life. The thought of dying is understandably unnerving for most people, but hospice provides emotional support that can help. Hospice seeks to put the patient in control whenever possible, making sure their wishes regarding end-of-life care and medical directives are carried out. In accordance with that end, the patient’s religious, ethnic, and cultural practices are always respected. You do not need to be a practitioner of a particular religion (or indeed, any religion) to receive hospice support.
- Reduced stress in both the patient and their family. With hospice, a specialized medical team handles most aspects of care. This team may include a doctor, a visiting nurse or social worker, home health aides, and spiritual advisors. You and your loved one can focus on spending any remaining time together, rather than trying to coordinate various services.
- Pain management. One of the things many people are concerned about when it comes to end-of-life care is the thought of a painful passing. That’s why hospice focuses so heavily on keeping the patient comfortable and as pain-free as possible.
- Bereavement counseling for the family. Contrary to popular belief, hospice support doesn’t only involve the primary patient. Bereavement counseling is available for the family during the time the patient is on hospice, as well as afterward. In fact, most hospices follow up with the family for a year after services end for the patient.
How to secure hospice support services
Admission to a hospice program is always voluntary. If your senior is on the fence about the idea, you may want to stress that no one can force hospice on them. As long as they are legally able to make decisions for themselves, they can cancel at any time. Otherwise, requirements for hospice generally start with a referral from your physician and a life expectancy of six months or less. When you choose a hospice agency, you agree that the focus will be on palliative (or comfort) care, and that treatment focused on curing an illness or condition will stop.
Who pays for hospice support?
If you or your senior is concerned about paying for hospice support, there is some information that may help set your mind at ease. Although private insurances vary in their ability to pay for hospice, if your senior has Medicare or Medicaid, these programs pay for comprehensive hospice support at 100% nearly every time. This includes services, medications, and equipment related to the terminal diagnosis, even if those things are received in the patient’s home. You do not have to live at any kind of a facility to take part in hospice. And under Medicare and Medicaid, the highest co-pay you are responsible for per service is $5.
Hospice support that doesn’t focus on death
People are often under the misapprehension that hospice support is about death, when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Hospice is about celebrating your senior’s life, and making sure they experience a meaningful and pain-free transition. If approached in a sensitive, caring, and appropriate manner, hospice support can make a difficult time easier for both the senior and his or her family members. Those who carry on their loved one’s legacy often look back on this time as one of togetherness, healing, and maybe even hope.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.