Hospice programs are available to help terminally ill individuals live their remaining days with dignity. These programs can assist the family in making the patient as comfortable as possible. Assistance is available around the clock, seven days a week.
Hospice is primarily a concept of care and not a specific place of care. Hospice care usually is provided in the person’s home. It also can be made available at a special hospice residence. Hospice is a combination of services designed to address not only the physical needs of patients, but also the psychosocial needs of patients and their loved ones.
Hospice combines pain control, symptom management and emotional and spiritual support. Seniors and their families participate fully in the health care provided. The hospice team develops a care plan to address each patient’s individual needs. The hospice care team usually includes:
- The terminally ill patient and family
- Home health aides
- Clergy or other spiritual counselors
- Social workers
- Volunteers (if needed, and trained to perform specific tasks)
- Occupational, physical, and/or speech therapists (if needed)
When is Hospice Care Appropriate?
As with many end-of-life decisions, the choice to enroll in a hospice care program is a deeply personal thing. It depends almost as much on the patient’s philosophy of living and spiritual beliefs as it does on his or her physical condition and the concerns of family members.
How Can I Pay for Hospice Care?
Medicare, private health insurance, and Medicaid (in 43 states) covers hospice care for patients who meet eligibility criteria. Private insurance and veterans’ benefits may also cover hospice care under certain conditions. In addition, some hospice programs offer healthcare services on a sliding fee scale basis for patients with limited income and resources. To get help with your Medicare questions call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit www.medicare.gov. Additional information about how to pay for hospice care can be found at the Public Policy Institute of the AARP.
Other Counseling & Support Services
Seniors and family caregivers facing end-of-life decisions often must deal with very difficult issues of grief and loss both before and after their loved one dies. In addition, they may have practical concerns about their legal rights and how to pay the bills now that an important member of the household is gone. Americans for Better Care of the Dying- http://www.abcd-caring.org/
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