It’s an all too common situation. A family is at the bedside of a loved one who is nearing the end of life. Each member of the family has a different idea of what should be done and what the patient would have wanted.
Far too many wait until a health care crisis before thinking about what care they or their loved ones would have wanted. Often, by waiting too long to learn about possible options, people end up spending difficult days in the hospital. Opportunities to be with loved ones at home are lost.
When a family is coping with a serious illness and a cure is no longer possible, hospice provides the type of care most people say they want at the end of life – comfort and dignity. Considered to be the model for high-quality, compassionate care for people with a life-limiting illness, hospice care includes expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support. Care is provided by an inter-disciplinary team of professionals and trained volunteers. The wishes of the patient and family are always at the center of care.
Most hospice care is provided in the home just as most Americans have said they would want to be – whether that is in a house, nursing home, senior living center or assisted living facility. Seven in 10 Americans said they would prefer to die at home according to a Time/CNN Poll. Centers for Disease Control statistic show that only 25% do.
Care is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance.
There is another healthcare option for which hospices are the largest providers in the nation: Palliative care. It makes sense, as hospice care teams are already focused on “palliation,” which is making patients comfortable by treating the symptoms resulting from a serious illness.
Seeking palliative care is not necessarily something one does at the end-of-life. The goal of comfort and pain management also is important to people who have chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Hospice providers can help with information about care options and choices and ensure you live as fully as possible throughout your entire life. They will make sure your loved ones receive support as well.
The best possible outcome relies on one important factor: Don’t wait. Talk about it today. One of the best ways to make sure you and your loved ones benefit fully from hospice, should you ever need this care, is to talk about it before it becomes an issue.