Hospice care is about living. Every patient and family deserve consistent expert care and compassionate personal attention, especially during their last stages of life. Many families have never experienced caring for a loved one with a serious diagnosis. Every day can be extremely challenging when you or someone you love is coping with a life-limiting illness.
Each year, thousands of patients and their families in Colorado face this reality. Unfortunately, many of these people believe hospice and palliative care are reserved for the very last days of life when all other options have failed and miss the opportunity to live their last weeks or months in physical, emotional and spiritual comfort that is available to them through hospice care.
Hospice care holistically addresses physical, emotional, and spiritual needs while ensuring the patient and their family are in control of the care choices. Additionally, hospice care provides specialized end-of-life clinical care with oversight by physicians, nurse practitioners, and nurses.
“Depending on the hospice provider, services can include other tools that work together with traditional medical therapies, such as touch therapies, aromatherapy, Animal Companions, and music therapy.”
Physicians work with patients if they choose to stay as the primary care and attending physician, to consult on the patient’s condition and prognosis. With a complex serious illness, the routines of life may not be so routine, therefore certified nursing assistants are also available to help the patient with bathing, grooming, and other everyday activities.
Medicare and Medicaid both provide coverage for basic hospice services, and most private insurance policies have some hospice provision. It is recommended that patients check with their health insurance provider specifically. Medications, medical equipment, andsupplies, related to the hospice diagnosis, may also be included and delivered right to the patient’s homeif in-home care is available with their selected hospice provider. Care may then be adjusted to each patient’s unique needs, helping relieve stress and manage pain.
There are signs indicating hospice care should be considered. For example, when the patient:
- No longer responds as expected to treatments for the disease.
- Expresses concern that the burden of treatment is outweighing the benefits.
- Is experiencing consistent pain or when other physical symptoms are not relieved.Makes repeated, short-term trips to the hospital and/or emergency room.
- Is despondent about his or her condition and quality of life.