Death is a natural part of life. People who are given a terminally ill medical diagnosis have the option to live their last few months in comfort and receive extraordinary attention. Hospice care offers meaning and fulfillment in the last few months of life for patients with a terminal illness.
Many folks shy away from delving deep into what hospice care actually is, since the simple notion of hospice care appears frightening and forlorn—as if it is a step away from death’s shadowy door. Read on for an in-depth look at what hospice care really involves. In short, hospice care is the most compassionate form of care a loved one on the brink of death can receive.
Myth #1: Hospice centers are holding facilities where terminally ill patients have lost all hope and go to die.
When a patient enters hospice care, hope is not lost but invigorated. The patient, expecting to die within months, is treated compassionately by skilled hospice doctors and nurses so that they live out their final days with dignity and meaning. Skilled hospice professionals help patients live fully and without pain until their final breath. Rather than dying alone in a hospital bed or institution, hospice patients receive all the warmth and care needed to experience the most rewarding last days of life.
Myth #2: Patients must be given less than six months to live in order to enter hospice care.
Terminally ill patients can be at any stage in their illness and still be eligible for a hospice program. No hard and fast rule exists that determines when a patient can receive hospice treatment. Experts believe the six month period was originally enacted by Medicare’s estimation of how long a person may require care, namely, for two six-month periods.
If a patient enters a hospice center and outlives the six month Medicare time period, they can exit from the program and return again later. Due to the decrease in stress and increase in comfort, many hospice patients actually live longer.
Myth #3: Hospice patients may only receive care in a hospice facility.
Professionals specify that palliative care gives a person the right to die any place they desire. Terminally ill patients can be compassionately treated wherever they choose, whether it’s within the familiar surroundings of their home, nursing facility, inpatient hospice unit or other licensed facility. Emergency hospice services are available 24/7.
Myth #4: The cost of hospice care is too expensive.
Medicare provides ample financial help to hospice patents; Medicare beneficiaries may pay next to nothing or nothing at all for hospice care. Hospice programs are covered by Medicare nationwide and by Medicaid in 47 out of 50 states. Private health insurance companies also cover hospice care.
Hospice treatment centers also assist families with finding suitable coverage. If none is available, some hospice units will accept patients regardless, treating them with funds from community donations or memorial gifts.
Myth #5: Hospice programs accelerate death.
Doctors and nurses who tend to hospice patients neither speed up the death process nor delay dying. Simply, hospice caregivers are present to offer incredible support, ease and care, allowing the dying process to occur naturally. In the meantime, hospice patients experience all the warmth from being truly cared for. Exceptional programs, including music and art therapy, are offered in hospice centers to lift the spirits of patients; clergy are also available to attend to the spiritual needs of patients.
Myth #6: The hospice team is made up of only volunteers.
Professionals, including licensed medical doctors, nurses, social workers, clergy and therapists make up a typical hospice care team. Each professional contributes individual expertise to ensure the hospice patient receives the best care in the last few months of life. Volunteers, in addition to the professional team, play a significant role in donating time to offer companionship and support to hospice patients.
Myth #7: Once admitted to hospice care, the patient must remain there even upon improvement.
Some patients who enter a hospice unit recover from their illnesses. In cases where a patient’s condition improves, the patient can be discharged from hospice to return to their daily life or get into the appropriate therapy. If the disease returns or worsens after discharge, patients are welcome to return to hospice for care. Medicare’s hospice benefit covers costs when returning to hospice programs.
Hospice doctors may even discharge a patient upon seeing signs of recovery. Perhaps a new form of treatment becomes available, giving the patient a different approach to try. In any case, patients receiving hospice care may opt out at any time.
Myth #8: Hospice utilizes sedation as the most effective plan of action.
Those who enter hospice centers understand that dying is inevitable. The source of pain, however, is not in the realization that death is imminent, but in the physical pain that often accompanies the daily lives of terminally ill patients. Pain management is an important factor in palliative care. However the lowest doses of pain medications that are proven to have a soothing effect on the pain are usually sustained—this is the norm. Rarely do abuses of sedatives occur. Hospice programs aim to show that dying does not have to be painful. The dying process can be dignified, pain free and comfortable.
Hospice care centers are available to evaluate the unique needs of patients, accept individuals into a program and offer compassionate care. Some hospice centers accept patients into hospice units. Others offer in-home hospice care.
Assisting Hands Home Care – Chicago offers compassionate, in-home hospice care within the Naperville community. Hospice programs send skilled caregivers to family homes to provide non-medical assistance to hospice patients. Examples of services caregivers provide include medication reminders, meal preparation, grooming and bathing, and light housekeeping.
Trustworthy in-home hospice care is invaluable. Skilled caregivers like those at Assisting Hands Home Care – Chicago play an integral role in helping patients with terminal illnesses to live out the rest of their days with dignity. Families experience comfort in knowing dedicated hospice caregivers are at their loved one’s home to provide round-the-clock attention and quality care.