Having a terminal illness is one of the most difficult things you will experience. Learning you only have a few months to live brings fear and frustration, but it is also the perfect opportunity to prepare for what is coming. Discuss whether you want to participate in a hospice care program and find a provider who will provide the physical and emotional support you and your family need during this difficult time.
Hospice is not a place - it is a philosophy. It is the type of care you choose when you are terminally ill. It focuses on managing your pain and other symptoms instead of attempting to cure your condition. Hospice services will also give you and your family the emotional, social, and spiritual support you need, guiding you through the process of dying and offering bereavement support once you have passed.
Choosing this type of care does not mean you are giving up on your life. Stopping aggressive treatment is every patient's choice, and you may want to enter a hospice program if you feel aggressive treatment no longer helps and is only robbing you of spending quality time with your family. Most caregivers provide care at home, but if you have symptoms that require special equipment, think about moving into a hospice inn or a sanatorium.
When should you discuss hospice care?
Some people choose this type of care during the last few days of their lives. Think about entering this kind of program earlier, as soon as when the doctor tells you how much time you have left. This lets you prepare a care plan you and your family will feel comfortable with. It also lets you benefit from receiving support and education from hospice program experts.
Having consistently declining health, increased pain and other symptoms, repeated hospitalization, and decreasing alertness and mobility are some signs you need to enter a hospice program. This allows you to spend more time with your loved ones while receiving pain management.
Who pays for hospice programs?
Your doctor needs to assess your condition before you can enter this program. Medical experts need to establish you have a terminal illness, you only have at most six months to live, and your health is consistently declining to qualify you for Medicaid coverage. Your private insurance also covers this service.
Check with your provider and find out what items they will pay for. Medicare will cover medical equipment, care and support both for you and your loved ones, and medication.
Some providers of hospice services may charge based on your ability to pay. They will use these contributions to offset the expenses of other patients that pay little or nothing at all. You can also choose to pay privately even with Medicaid and private insurance coverage.
Do not wait until your final days until you enter a hospice program. Choosing this type of care puts you in control of how you spend your final days and whom you spend it with. Find a hospice service provider and create a care plan that benefits you and your family.
May Graham is a hospice care provider who discusses hospice services with families of terminally ill patients.
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For more information, you might enjoy reading my book, More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife. Purchase paperback on Amazon.com. It's also on Amazon as an e-book for those who have Kindle or Sony Readers. The audio book is now available!