Everything You Need to Know About Hospice Care

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It’s extremely trying to find out someone you care about is entering hospice. Oftentimes, families and friends don’t know what to anticipate, they only know time is limited. Read on for a better understanding of the hospice process, and what you can expect in the coming weeks and months.

What’s my role?

American Hospice Association explains close friends and family members typically play an integral role in hospice care. It’s a chance to support your loved one in important ways, like communicating with the professional team, and sorting through decisions that must be made. If not already accomplished, you might need to do things like help your loved one with completing end-of-life documents, or gathering other important paperwork. If you can’t locate what’s needed, and your loved one is unable to tell you, you can often find out about crucial documents like life insurance policies by asking other family members, or checking desk drawers or address books. Found business cards or paid bills are a good indicator of insurers.

Get to know the team

Several professionals are typically part of a hospice care time. Your loved one’s doctor, a social worker, nurse, hospice aide, and chaplain, all normally work together to meet the patient’s needs. Care is coordinated by the social worker in light of the patient’s goals. As Very well Health explains, the social worker can also help you with things like grief counseling, funeral planning, and completing Medicare paperwork.

What about holistic care?

A common question that arises for seniors in hospice is whether Medicare covers holistic care. Holistic care involves therapies such as meditation, guided imagery, yoga, and acupuncture. While Medicare covers much of hospice, Medicare does not cover holistic therapies. You can add an osteopath to your hospice team and receive coverage, so long as that osteopath is a licensed physician. Examine your loved one’s coverage to determine if they have a Medicare Advantage plan. It’s a great way to find out if your loved one is eligible for holistic-oriented care, and some plans include things like acupuncture, wellness programs, and chiropractic services.

Where will my loved one stay?

Your loved one has chosen hospice care for comfort, rather than enduring curative treatments, such as chemotherapy, surgeries, or dialysis. Most hospice patients receive their care in-home, although there are also hospice care facilities throughout the country. The attending doctor makes decisions regarding any necessary changes in medical care. For instance, if your loved one develops pneumonia, a hospital stay could be in order. It’s important to understand those transitions would be short-term. The doctor would decide when your loved one could leave the hospital to return home or to a hospice facility.

Opening lines of communication

Sometimes one of the hardest parts of losing someone is knowing what to say to your loved one. As awkward as it may sound, as A Place for Mom explains, it’s okay to keep conversations open and talk with your loved one about the situation. Being honest will help you both to prepare for what’s coming, and it’s a chance to share feelings and support one another. Do try to avoid loading your grief on your loved one’s shoulders, and steer clear of weighty conflicts.

What happens at the end?

Many people don’t know what to expect during the end period of life. Here are some of the symptoms typical of a person nearing death:

  • Loss of thirst

  • Loss of appetite

  • Dry eyes and mouth

  • Disorientation

  • Sleepiness

  • Pain

  • Restlessness

  • Changes in breathing

  • Changes in skin color, and cool to the touch

  • Unresponsiveness

  • Intermittent breathing

Hospice aims to alleviate your loved one’s symptoms, and if you notice a concern, such as pain, being cold, or restlessness, you can request help from your hospice team. Also, hearing is felt to be one of the last senses to fade. Even if your loved one is unresponsive, continue to offer words of comfort.

During this time, it’s not unusual to feel a wide variety of emotions. Hospice is an opportunity to make the most of what time is left with your loved one. By putting quality of life first, you can savor every moment and face this transitional period with peace of mind.

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