Finding Peace in the Final Journey: How to Choose the Perfect Hospice Care Provider for Your Loved One
A good hospice care provider offers compassionate end-of-life care, alleviates pain and symptoms, provides emotional support to the patient and their family, and helps navigate the difficult decisions and challenges of a terminal illness. A loved one's final journey should be comfortable and dignified.
Saying goodbye to our loved ones is never easy. We wish to provide them with love, care, and comfort in the last moments of their lives. However, caring for them can be overwhelming or impossible as their illness progresses because they need 24/7 surveillance.
Hospice care is for patients in the last phase of terminal illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, or kidney failure, when treatment or cure is no longer feasible. Over 1.6 million Medicare beneficiaries enter hospice care every year; the hospice team provides pain management, medical care, and emotional support to the family members.
Signs Your Loved Ones Need Hospice Care
Hospice care typically begins when a doctor decides the patient has less than 6 months to live. A definitive sign someone needs hospice care is when they make frequent emergency trips to the hospital instead of regularly scheduled appointments. As the condition worsens, they may find it difficult to complete everyday tasks such as bathing or going to the toilet. The symptoms can also worsen: they may experience excruciating back pains or multiple recurrent infections such as UTIs.
They may have a reduced appetite or lose weight quickly, become easily confused and irritated, and communicate with difficulty due to increasing exhaustion. If your loved one wants to stop treatment, consider hospice care. Hospice care is generally provided in hospitals and nursing homes, but home hospice providers such as Husky Senior Care can also provide in-home care.
Factors to Consider
Your doctors or your state's health or social services department can help you find hospice providers. You may also find referrals through friends and family. Here are a few essential things to consider before choosing a hospice care provider:
Learn About the Provider
Other people's experiences can help you learn about the provider's reputation. Your provider's agency should be accredited (certified and licensed) by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc. (ACHC) or the Joint Commission. They should also be approved and certified for Medicare to allow the hospice care cost to be covered by Medicare.
Caregivers and nurses should have the right credentials and training; common certifications include the Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN). They should provide caregivers with training, support, and bereavement care for the family.
Different Levels of Care
Hospice care, also called comfort care, has four levels. Your loved one may need all four levels or just one.
Level 1 is routine home care, given when you are not in a medical crisis. Services provided include physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutritional services, or providing medical supplies.
Level 2, continuous home care, requires higher nursing care for 8 to 24 hours. You may need it when your pain doesn't go away, or you experience a breakdown in the family/caregiver support system.
Level 3, general in-patient care, is when short-term symptoms become too severe for home treatment. Your loved one may require medication and treatment.
Level 4, respite care, aims to lower caregiver stress by allowing patients to move into an in-patient facility.
Location and Readily Available Assistance
You must know the location of hospice nurses, not the agency, and the general area they cover to ensure they can be readily available in an emergency. They should be available 24/7 to address any emergency. Look for hospice programs with speedy admission processes to provide your loved one with immediate care.
While you can't change what's happening with your loved one, you can show them support and love along the way. Keep open communication with your loved one to ensure an easy transition if they need to move to an in-patient facility. Prioritize your well-being in the process, whether by using the emotional support facilities provided by the agency, joining support groups or through other loved ones. Remember, they need you as much as you need them.
About the Author
Patricia Lee is a writer with several years of experience working with non-profit organizations. She has extensive knowledge in many areas, including Education, Computer Science, and Psychology.
Contributor since April 17th, 2023
Under Medicare, hospice benefits provide a wide range of services and support to individuals with a terminal illness and their families.
The hospice benefit covers the following services:
Doctor services: Hospice care includes a primary care physician who oversees the patient's care, and other specialists as needed.
Nursing care: Skilled nursing care is provided on a 24/7 basis.
Medical equipment and supplies: Medicare covers equipment such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, and oxygen equipment, as well as medical supplies such as bandages and catheters.
Prescription drugs: Hospice patients can receive medications related to their terminal illness as part of the hospice benefit.
Home health aide and homemaker services: A hospice aide provides personal care, such as bathing and dressing, while a homemaker assists with household tasks, such as cleaning and cooking.
Social work services: A social worker can help with counseling and support for both the patient and their family members.
Spiritual care: Hospice care providers can provide spiritual care and support based on the patient's beliefs and preferences.
To be eligible for hospice benefits under Medicare, a patient must have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less, as certified by a physician. The patient must also agree to forgo curative treatment for their terminal illness, and instead focus on palliative care to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.
The hospice benefit is typically provided in the patient's home, but can also be provided in a hospice facility or nursing home.
There are situations where a care recipient will outlive their hospice benefits. If that person has a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, the policy will typically pay for these services.
What Happens Before Hospice?
However, prior to getting to hospice, many people will need help with daily living activities or supervision due to dementia. Many times, this care will last longer than three months and is provided for an extended period of time.
Long-Term health care involves non-skilled services that typically involve physical assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) or supervision for someone with a memory or reasoning impairment. This type of care is known as custodial care. Custodial care can be provided by paid professionals or by family and friends without formal health care training.
This care includes homemaking services like cleaning and cooking and personal-care assistance to help individuals safely navigate their daily routines. Although custodial care is essential for extended care planning, it is not covered by health insurance or Medicare. Planning is vital to protect families and finances.
Being prepared for the consequences of aging and declining health is an essential part of retirement planning. Long-Term Care Insurance is often used to provide guaranteed tax-free benefits to safeguard assets and reduce the burdens placed on family members.
With Long-Term Care Insurance, you maintain control of the type of quality services you wish in the setting you desire. Of course, you must start planning when you still enjoy fairly good health. Every insurance company has its own underwriting rules, and those vary from company to company.
What is LTC Insurance Underwriting?
You might read or have heard that Long-Term Care Insurance is expensive. It can be, depending on your age, health, family history, and the level of benefits you have within the policy. However, many people who purchase coverage find LTC Insurance very affordable.
Actual Long-Term Care Insurance Costs Based on Age
Be sure to seek the help of a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist who can shop all the top insurance companies and navigate the many options and underwriting criteria that vary between companies.
A Qualified Specialist Will Help You Shop for Good Coverage and Save You Money
A Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance specialist can assist a consumer in several ways, including:
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Comparing policies: Specialists can compare policies from different insurance companies to find the best coverage and rates that fit the consumer's budget.
Navigating the application process: Specialists can help the consumer navigate the complex application process and ensure that all necessary documents are submitted correctly and on time.
Providing ongoing support: Specialists can provide ongoing support to the consumer, answering questions and helping them understand the benefits of their LTC insurance policy, even after the policy is purchased.
Overall, an LTC Insurance specialist can help you make informed decisions about your long-term care planning needs and find the best coverage to protect your family and finances from the high costs of long-term health care.
Be sure the specialist has substantial experience with LTC Insurance, works with the top companies, and understands underwriting, policy design, and claims. This way, the specialist can provide you with accurate quotes along with professional recommendations.
Find a Qualified and Experienced LTC Insurance Specialist
Outstanding Resources Available on LTC NEWS
LTC NEWS offers news, guidance, and resources to assist you in long-term health care planning. Additionally, LTC NEWS provides reviews of various Long-Term Care Insurance plans.
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Parent’s Health Declining? Do They Need Care Now?
Get quality care for your parent or parents if they require it. LTC NEWS can assist. We've put together a few comprehensive guides to help you along the way.
Find help locating quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim.
Make sure your loved one uses their Long-Term Care Insurance if they are fortunate enough to have it. Families sometimes postpone taking advantage of the benefits thinking family members can provide care, saving the benefits for later when it is deemed "more necessary."
Delaying the use of available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a good idea. The policy provides you with access to quality care when someone needs it. It also gives loved one’s time to family instead of caregivers.
These four guides can be very helpful as you try to find appropriate long-term care services for a loved one:
Today's Reverse Mortgages Can Benefit Older Families
Some people have a large portion of their savings in their homes. With the help of reverse mortgages, you can find ways to pay for quality in-home care, pay for LTC Insurance, and even assist with cash flow during retirement.
Yes, today's reverse mortgages may be the perfect way to pay for a Long-Term Care Insurance policy or even cover the cost of in-home care if you or a loved one is currently in need.
Asking an expert with your questions will help you learn more. Mike Banner, a columnist for LTC NEWS and the host of the television program "62 Who Knew," will respond to your inquiries about long-term care, reverse mortgages, aging, and health.
- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.
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