10 Benefits of Hospice Care

May 5, 2016

10 Benefits of Hospice Care

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Hospice care is a type of end-of-life care that provides support and comfort care services for a dying person. In most cases, to qualify for comfort care, the individual’s physician and the hospice medical director must certify that the individual is terminally ill and has 6 months or less to live if the illness runs its normal course.

The goal of this type of care is to help a dying individual have peace, comfort, and dignity during the last days. Even though hospice care is commonly provided in the home, it is also available in a hospice center, a hospital, or other skilled long-term care facility.

Caring, Not Curing: Rejecting Curative Treatment

The purpose of hospice care is not to cure the illness, but to provide palliative care for comfort. If you and your loved one are discussing end-of-life options, you may not understand why someone would choose to receive palliative care, but not life-prolonging treatment.

When a patient no longer has curative options or the side effects of curative treatments outweigh the benefits, they may choose hospice care without the intent of prolonging their life. Other reasons that a terminally ill patient may choose hospice care include:

  • The patient has limited ability to care for him or herself.
  • The patient has received curative treatment but is no longer benefitting from it.
  • The patient does not qualify for an appropriate clinical trial.
  • There is no evidence that further treatment would be effective.

10 Benefits of Hospice Care

1. Familiar Environment

Though end-of-life care is available in hospitals, nursing homes, and other skilled long-term care facilities, hospice care is commonly given in the home. The ability of the patient to choose where hospice is given creates a sense of familiarity and comfort for the patient.

2. Sense of Dignity

With hospice care, the patient has already chosen not to pursue life-prolonging treatment. In this way, they get the chance to die with dignity instead of being hooked up to loud machines or undergoing invasive medical procedures in attempt to extend their life.

3. Comprehensive Plan and Health Professional Team

Your health care team will create a comprehensive plan that is personalized to you to address all aspects of the illness. A hospice team consists of health care professionals and trained volunteers that will provide medical, psychological, and spiritual support for a dying person. Hospice care also provides support services for the patient’s family as well.

4. Respecting Patient Wishes

When you plan for end-of-life care early, you are able to respect the wishes of your loved one, so that when the time comes, you can be sure that you are making the right decisions.

5. Relief of Financial Burden

Hospital and medical bills can quickly become devastating for families. If your loved one qualifies for Medicare, then his or her hospice care may be covered. Beyond Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurances will help to cover hospice care. This greatly reduces the out of pocket costs for families.

6. Provide All Medication and Medical Equipment

Hospice care is billed as a package procedure. That means that when Medicare covers your hospice care, it includes all of the medication, equipment, and any aids that may be necessary to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible during your last days

7. Care Available 24/7

Hospice care provides professionals on-call at all hours during the day. This is a great benefit because no matter what time of day, or day of the week, you can have a medical professional tend to your loved one to give them what they need, whether that is medical attention, food, or even just to lend an ear.

8. Family and Friends Involvement

Hospitals and other care facilities have visiting hours that limit when people can visit. With hospice care, especially in the home, friends and family are able to come and go as they please to visit a dying individual. And planning for hospice care allows for the family to be involved and keep everyone aware of what their dying loved one’s wishes are.

9. Lessen the Family Burden

Because hospice care costs are covered, family out-of-pocket costs greatly decrease.  Families are able to take breaks in caring for their loved one due to on-call aides being available.

10. Opportunities for Growth, Peace, and Healing

Coming to terms with end-of-life and death can be extremely difficult for not only a dying individual’s loved ones but for also for that individual. With counselors and spiritual advisors available, a dying individual can get their affairs in order, and become more comfortable with their end of days, rather than feeling like they or their family are surrendering or giving up.

If you or a loved one is terminally ill, talk to your family and health care provider about your end-of-life care options.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Am I still eligible for hospice if I'm already in a nursing home or long-term care facility?

One of the major benefits of hospice care is that you are able to receive it whether you are at home, a hospital, a long-term care facility or nursing home. You can choose where you would like to receive your hospice care.

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Are there any signs that the end may be near for hospice patients?

There are some common signs that death is near and they include:

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness/Sleepiness
  • Mental confusion
  • Constipation or incontinence
  • Nausea
  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Parts of the body becoming cool to the touch or darker or blue in color

It is important to remember that these signs alone do not mean that someone is dying. However, for seniors that are in hospice or declining health and experience many of these symptoms, it could suggest that they are nearing the end of their life.

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