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8 Reasons Hospice Care is Beneficial for Patients and Their Families

November 15, 2021
encouraging a patient in hospice care

"Hospice" may be a word that everyone doesn't want to hear. That's because it sounds like giving up or placing your responsibility on someone else.

However, hospice care can sometimes be the best option, especially for elderly loved ones, to live the remaining days of their lives.

Thus, you need to approach the possibility of hospice care with an open mind. After all, it can be beneficial for your aging parent or grandparent and your family.

Hospice Care 101: Definition, Requirements, and Eligibility

Hospice care is a healthcare service that caters to terminally ill patients. The goal of hospice care is to provide comfort to an elderly patient by reducing pain and suffering brought by the illness.

This also includes making certain that the patient is in a less stressful environment. That way, they can pass away in peace and with less pain and suffering.

The basic philosophy behind hospice care is to treat terminally ill patients with compassion. That way, they can still live their remaining days with dignity.

Hospice care is also family-centered. Meaning, family members take part in making necessary decisions for the patient. It gives them the time to enjoy themselves with their loved ones instead of acting as interim caregivers.

Patients in hospice care can stay as long as they need, as long as they meet certain criteria. One of which is that the hospice care doctor and your physician certify that you are terminally ill. However, there are hospice care facilities that have a maximum length of eligibility of six months.

This means that the senior family member is not expected to live for more than six months.

When is the Best Time to Seek Hospice Care?

As mentioned earlier, patients with a terminal illness who are not expected to live for more than six months are eligible for hospice care.

For instance, a senior family member is diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer, and the prognosis is three months. This is the time the patient and the family should consider hospice care. There is no need to prolong your decision, as that could only mean that the patient is suffering.

Keep in mind that the goal here is to ensure that the patient receives the utmost care needed for the remaining days of their lives. This includes reducing the pain they're feeling and ensuring that they are as comfortable as possible. That way, they can pass away with dignity.

Some Important Facts to Know About Hospice Care

Now that we've covered the basics, let's try to bust some myths about hospice care. Here are six important facts about hospice care that you need to know:

  1. It's for people with advanced illnesses. It's a service that provides symptom and pain management for terminally ill patients. These are often senior family members like aging parents and grandparents.
  2. It's a choice. Patients can leave anytime, revoking their hospice status for any reason. They can also come back anytime, as long as they meet the eligibility guidelines of the hospice. There's no time limit a patient can be on hospice.
  3. Patients can keep on taking some of their medications. Hospice patients are given medications that help manage symptoms of their advanced illness.
  4. Hospice can provide needed medications. This is to help ease a patient’s symptoms. Hospice doctors might give enough medication to help manage the symptoms and help ease the pain.
  5. Hospice can provide relevant home and medical equipment and supplies. This includes oxygen tanks, shower chairs, hospital beds, toileting supplies, etc.

Most hospice patients don't need to have out-of-pocket expenses. Medicare Part A covers the total cost of hospice care for terminally ill patients. The best part is that it does not have deductibles and does not require copayments. Meanwhile, private and employer-provided health coverage for hospice care varies.

8 Ways Hospice Care can Benefit an Elderly Patient and Their Families

Aside from providing comfort and reducing pain and suffering, you might be wondering: What are the other benefits of hospice care?

As mentioned earlier, hospice care is family-centered. This means that family members will remain the primary caregivers. However, they have the support of a team of experts that makes regular and scheduled visits.

This team of experts includes a physician, nurses, aides, social workers, and a bereavement specialist. They will ensure that an elderly loved one is comfortable, free from pain, and can keep the highest quality of life. In addition, they can help you make crucial decisions for the patient.

That said, we have listed the eight ways hospice care can benefit your aging parent or grandparent and the rest of the family:

Comprehensive Plan

The key to ensuring that a patient is comfortable throughout their remaining days is a comprehensive plan. This includes finding ways for a senior family member to be free from pain, and the family would know what to do next once the patient passes away.

This is where having a team of experts can be helpful.

Stress-free Environment

When in hospice care, the patient can spend their remaining days in a stress-free environment. It is like staying in a familiar place that is free from the hustle and bustle of the hospital.

The good thing is that patients do not have to be in a hospice facility to receive palliative care. Some of them can spend their remaining days within the comfort of their home or in a long-term care facility.

On the other hand, hospice care also allows the family member to focus on taking care of their aging parent or grandparent.

Enhanced Treatment

As a family, we can only do so much for someone who is terminally ill. Meanwhile, a hospice has a team of experts who can help reduce a patient's pain and suffering. As such, they can spend the rest of their remaining days in comfort.

Personalized Care and Support

A hospice care facility provides 24/7 care and support to the patient and their family. The primary focus is to ease anxiety and stress on both the patient and their loved ones. 

This involves comprehensive and interdisciplinary care provided by a team of medical professionals that includes the following:

  • Physicians
  • Case manager nurses
  • Certified medical social workers
  • Home health aides
  • Chaplains
  • Hospice volunteers.

They can help you make an important decision, as well as in-between rest visits. 

Hospice care also aims to understand the patient and their family's wants and needs. A hospice team can give a unique and tailored care plan to guarantee the patient's comfort and well-being by knowing their wishes. 

It can tailor this plan to meet the patient's clinical, spiritual, and psychological needs and wants. These moments can give the patient and their families that much-needed feeling of security, comfort, and dignity.

24-Hour Care

Whether the patient is in a hospice facility, assisted living, or long-term care facility, hospice care is available 24/7. This includes holidays and weekends.

In addition, family members and professional caregivers can collaborate with the hospice care team as needed.

Sense of Dignity

Hospice gives a patient a chance to die with dignity. This means not being hooked on loud machines or checked and prodded by healthcare workers every hour. They also do not have to go through invasive procedures to prolong their life.

After all, one of the essential elements of hospice care is respecting the patient's wishes.

By placing a loved one in hospice care, families can focus on spending their time with the patient. There is no need for you to deal with all the red tape and extensive procedures in a hospital setting.

Instead, they can focus on addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of elderly loved ones and their families. It is all about making the most of the patient's remaining days.

Reduced Financial Burden

For a lot of families, hospital bills can be overwhelming. However, in hospice care, out-of-pocket costs are reduced.

This includes expenses for medications, durable medical equipment, and medical supplies.

Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance help cover hospice care. We advise that the patient and their loved ones check their insurance first to know what elements of hospice care are covered.

Family Counseling

Guidance and support is also an important aspect. Hospice helps the patient's family deal with grief and how to go through in this challenging time. This can include spiritual and professional counseling from a chaplain and social worker.

Once the senior family member passes on, a hospice facility can also offer bereavement and grief counseling. It will even assist them with a couple of after-death tasks, such as filing a death certificate.

Over to You

Hospice care is not about curing a person's disease. Instead, it is about ensuring a terminally ill senior family member's mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

This explains why hospice care is comprehensive and interdisciplinary. That's because a patient will require medical attention, while the family will need help processing their emotions during a challenging time.

So when an aging parent or grandparent is diagnosed with a terminal illness and has a poor prognosis, do not hesitate to consider hospice care.

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