What Is Hospice Care?

senior lady in hospice care with a caregiver

Hospice care is compassionate medical care for those who are near the end of life, due to age or a life-limiting illness. A professional caregiving team addresses their symptoms but doesn’t try to cure their disease or prevent death. Hospice offers a variety of benefits, helping not only those who are dying, but those who will be left behind. It allows a person’s last days to be spent with dignity and in peace, and helps families coordinate care, make decisions, and communicate effectively with their loved one as they take the last step in life’s journey.    

 

When to choose hospice care.

Families commonly turn to hospice care when their loved one’s health condition is rapidly declining, with limited life expectancy due to a condition that can no longer be cured or controlled. Usually, it’s when a person has less than 6 months to live. In some cases, it’s the individual who personally chooses hospice care over continued hospitalization, because they’re ready to live more comfortably and forego treatments that prolong their life. However, hospice care is often not started soon enough. There’s a misperception that choosing hospice is a sign of “giving up”  or that the situation is hopeless. This can translate into missed opportunities for a person who wants to experience a meaningful quality of life before they pass, and for family members who care for them.

 

What to expect.

There’s great comfort in being in familiar surroundings, and most people prefer to receive hospice services in their own home. There are times when certain types of round-the-clock medical support are needed, such as intravenous fluids or a ventilator machine. This requires moving to an extended-care facility or inpatient hospice center. If possible, the person can return to in-home care when ready.

A hospice care team comprises professionals who are experienced with the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual needs during the last stages of life. They help look for and support the individual and their families as these issues come up.

Palliative care may be part of hospice care. It’s sometimes called symptom management or comfort care. It doesn’t attempt to cure, but treats or manages side effects of life-limiting illnesses such as cancer or Alzheimer’s.

 

Eight Facts About Hospice

1. Hospice isn’t based in a special facility. It takes place wherever it’s needed — usually the person’s home.

2. Hospice isn’t just for cancer patients. It helps families coping with all terminal illnesses, including cancer, emphysema, Alzheimer’s, and neuromuscular diseases.

3. Hospice helps the whole family, not just the dying. It’s a family-centered concept of care, which supports the grieving family members as much as the person they’ll  miss.

4. Hospice is there when family can’t be. Terminally ill patients may live alone or have family members who are unable to provide care. Hospice care can provide resources to safely fill the gap.   

5. Hospice professionals manage all levels of care. Most hospice centers are Medicare-certified, with nurses and other medical personnel who offer palliative care for mild to chronic symptom management.

6. Hospice helps families overcome their fear. Hospice caregivers help individuals and families understand the process of dying and death, guiding them to find acceptance at their own pace.

7. Hospice care is almost completely covered by Medicare. Seniors ages 65+ are entitled to the Medicare hospice benefit, which covers most services and incurs very few out-of-pocket costs.

8. Hospice care offers hope. The gift of hospice is to help families deepen the connection with their loved one, and find peace together.

  

How we can help.

Lake Port Square provides a range of health services, including hospice care. We work with a network of preferred providers, making it possible for residents with end-of-life needs to receive high-quality, consistent hospice care while residing in our senior living community. We welcome inquiries from families who are unsure about their needs and who would like help with making a family decision about hospice care. Contact us today.