What is Hospice Care?

May 12, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

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As your loved one comes to the end stages of Alzheimer’s disease, you will have to make some very difficult decisions. Over the next few days, I’m going to talk about hospice care, what it is and isn’t. The myths and misconceptions, the advantages/disadvantages of getting into hospice and explain some of the services provided under the hospice benefit. First, a definition from Hospice Foundation of America.

Hospice is a special concept of care designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments.Most people are not aware that hospice care is a benefit of Medicare Part A. Some hospice workers refer to it as “Medicare’s best kept secret.” Please see my post entitled Medicare Made Simple for more information about Medicare. According to the Department of Health and Human Services here are some important facts about hospice care:

Hospice provides comfort and support services to people who are terminally ill. It helps them live out the time they have remaining to the fullest extent possible.

Hospice care is provided by a specially trained team that cares for the “whole person,” including his or her physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.

Hospice provides support to family members caring for a terminally ill person.

Hospice is generally given in the home.

Hospice services may include drugs, physical care, counseling, equipment, and supplies for the terminal and related condition(s).

Hospice isn’t only for people with cancer.

Hospice doesn’t shorten or prolong life.

Hospice focuses on comfort, not on curing an illness. Choosing to place your loved one in hospice care is a very personal and important decision. Although you can make the decision ahead of time, in order to receive official hospice care, a doctor will have to certify that the patient “probably” has six months or fewer to live. I personally know of people who were in hospice care for 18 months or longer. It’s not necessarily a case of, “there’s nothing else we can do.”

Rather, hospice IS the something else, the something more that can be done. It is also important to note that you can get OUT of hospice at any time if you are not happy with the service or if health improves.Yes, at its core, hospice is about the end. But its about facing the end of life surrounded with family and with honor and dignity.There are many myths and misconceptions about hospice that I’ll talk about in detail on tomorrow.

Call for Photos! We are looking for pics of caregivers and the people they care for. We’ll post one each week, so get your picture in soon!

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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