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Hospice care is becoming increasingly important as the Baby Boomer generation ages and enters its sunset years. There is around a 5% increase annually in the number of Medicare beneficiaries receiving hospice care. When there is a terminal illness being faced, hospice care becomes a welcoming option for many. Here is what you should know about hospice care.
What Is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is sometimes provided to people who are close to the end of their lives. Generally, hospice care is provided to terminally ill patients who have under six months left to live. However, it can also be given longer, provided that a patient’s doctor or hospice care providers confirm the patient’s condition is terminal, without improvements being seen after treatment.
Those who qualify have usually been determined to be terminally ill, and are provided with special services that involve reducing their pain. Their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs are addressed as best as they can be. Hospice care may also include counseling, respite care, and other forms of helpful support.
When it comes to hospice care, the aim is not to cure some underlying disease. Instead, it’s to make whatever remaining time exists for someone to be of the highest quality it can be.
Who Benefits From Hospice Care?
The majority of those who benefit from hospice care are patients with late-stage cancer. However, common diagnosis are also heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney failure, and other conditions. All of these are examples of patients who are provided a better and easier life while they still have it.
A secondary beneficiary of hospice care is an individual or family the patient is related to or cared for by. This will reduce the chances of those friends, family, or loved ones suffering from intense grief that sometimes occurs. Reading about coping with grief and loss when someone is in hospice is recommended. Hospice care also helps them prepare for the patient’s eventual passing.
Patients who receive hospice care will receive it at a special facility or at home for the amount of time they need it.
Who Is Involved in Hospice Care?
Hospice care involves individuals in several different areas of assistance and support. Hospice staff provides on-call service 24/7 to ensure the highest quality and most immediate care is delivered to patients who need it.
The individuals on a hospice care team usually include all of the following:
- Doctors – A doctor will act as the primary care doctor, as well as the hospice doctor who oversees the care of a patient in hospice care. The patient will have the ability to select who their primary doctor will be. This could even be a doctor they have been familiar with before entering into hospice, or it can be a resident hospice doctor.
- Nurses – There may be one or more nurses who are providing hospice care to the patient. They will be the main point of contact, as well as the liaison, between the patient and the rest of the hospice care team.
- Health Aides – A health aide will provide additional support that includes routine care involving everyday needs. Whether it’s helping a patient get dressed, bathed, or other necessary tasks.
- Spiritual Counselors – Someone like a minister, priest, or other types of spiritual counselors will be able to provide spiritual care, guidance, and support for both the patient and their family.
- Social Workers – A social worker will be providing both counseling and support for those facing the end of their lives. These hospice care team members can also give referrals to other helpful support systems that exist.
- Pharmacists – A pharmacist is the one who can provide any medication that mitigates painful and unwanted symptoms that come with a terminal illness. The most effective and available methods to reduce the suffering of a patient in hospice care are provided.
- Volunteers – There will be trained volunteers who deliver additional help and support services to other caregivers previously mentioned. These can also include ancillary services like transportation.
- Bereavement Counselors – At the end of a patient’s life while in hospice care, a bereavement counselor will provide grief counseling to the family of the patient.
What Services Does Hospice Care Cover?
Hospice care covers a number of areas, including the following:
- Palliative care, including the control and management of symptoms
- Pain management
- Mental health support
- Spiritual support
- Familial support
When it comes to managing symptoms, this does not include any direct treatment of an illness a patient is suffering from. Instead, it only focuses on easing any symptoms that are causing discomfort for a patient’s final days.
Hospice care provides helpful support to the families of the patient receiving the care. Any family that receives this service will stay informed as to the status of the condition the patient is in. If there are any sudden changes, the family will be notified and informed about what they should expect. This will also include information regarding the dying process.
All of these benefits have been shown to be well worth it. A study in 2011, published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, uncovered that families of patients who receive hospice care services will find the level of hospice care provided to the patient to be more satisfactory and high-quality then those families who received hospice care too late. In fact, several studies found the same thing.
A hospice care team will deliver 24/7 support to patients in need of it. There will occasionally be coordination of communication with clergy and funeral directors, in order to deliver bereavement support for any related and loved ones grieving.
Now that you know more about hospice care, you can make an informed decision for when you see signs that it may be time for hospice. Hospice Valley provides quality hospice care for anyone diagnosed with a terminal illness, along with their families. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.