Hospice care is usually not an option if your loved ones are terminally ill. It’s generally assumed that hospice care is for the end-stage cancer patients. This type of care is for anyone who is at the end stage of a life-ending illness.
Illnesses Covered By Hospice Care?
Hospice specializes in caring for terminally ill patients suffering from the following diseases:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Kidney disease
- Heart diseases
- Chronic lung problems
- Alzheimer’s or dementia
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Huntington’s disease
- Liver disease
- Cardiopulmonary disease
- Neurological conditions
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Renal disease
- Other terminal illnesses
The patient suffering from any of the above-mentioned diseases are usually at the last stage. They receive specialized care by a team of trained health-care professionals to maximize their comfort. Hospice care is not aimed at treating the underlying illness, in fact, the care provided to the patients targets their pain and symptoms of the disease. Their physical, social, psychological, and spiritual needs are addressed.
The focus of hospice care is not to cure the underlying disease, but to provide the highest quality of life possible to the patient for the time they have left. This service is for terminally ill patients who have 6 months or less to live. The doctor of the person must certify that the condition of the patient is life-limiting.
Enrolling in hospice care ensures the patient lives a better and fuller life. In some cases, patients outlive the timeline provided to them by the doctor. Therefore, hospice care does not mean you are giving up on life. This kind of care decreases the burden of the patient’s family. They don’t have to go through a complicated process of grief.
The patient does not have to remain in the hospice facility for an extended time period. If they want private care, it can be provided to them at home. Likewise, if the primary caregiver of the patient needs a break, they can get respite care.
Eligibility Requirements for Hospice Care
- The patient has been diagnosed with a terminal disease with a prognosis of 6 months or less.
- Frequent hospitalization during the past 6 months
- Weight loss due to the disease
- Increased fatigue and weakness
- Skin breakdown
- Recurrent infections
- Deteriorating mental health
- Assistance required in daily activities such as toileting, eating, bathing, dressing, walking
The history of hospice care
The concept of hospice care started in the middle ages to set hospices as a resting place for pilgrims and travelers. By the end of the 19th century, hospice care facilities were designated to care for the dying. Nurses, social workers, and physicians showed their commitment towards patient-centered care. The first hospice care was opened in Ireland and then in England. Ever since the hospice program was spread across most of the developed countries across the world.
Hospice services were designed to provide palliative care to patients who have less time left. The Medicare hospice benefit was authorized under the Medicare program to cover the cost of hospice care.
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How to select a hospice care program?
To figure out which hospice program is best for your loved one, talk to the doctor, nurses, counselors or social workers involved in the program. You can also contact the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization for further assistance.
Before you choose a hospice program, there are some questions that will help you evaluate your options:
- Start with the hospice care team. Find out how they are trained and screened. Is their hospice medical director board certified?
- Is the program profit or non-profit?
- Do they have a dedicated pharmacist to arrange the medications?
- Do they offer residential care?
- How are they pain management services? Are they willing to manage the symptoms of your disease?
- Are they willing to provide 24/7 care when needed?
- How long will it take to have your loved one accepted into the program?
- What kind of services are provided to the patient’s family? Are they willing to provide respite services and bereavement services?
- If the patient’s circumstances change are they willing to provide care services in different settings?
If your loved ones are suffering from any of these above mentioned illnesses, talk to their doctor about hospice care as soon as you can.