Medicare Part A covers hospice care for terminally ill patients “with a life expectancy of six months or less” as determined by the patient’s physician. But with a 2011-2016 average of just 2½ months of hospice care, some 1.4 million hospice care beneficiaries in 2016 could have benefitted much more had they signed up sooner.
Why the delay? One reason may be the patients’ and families’ all-too-human tendency to keep hoping against hope that the inevitable won’t happen. They tend to associate hospice care with resignation, with lacking the courage to keep on fighting whatever condition they suffer from. Perhaps some physicians are also uncomfortable talking with patients and their families about end-of-life issues.
A second reason could be misconceptions about hospice care – misconceptions that keep patients’ last months from being as comfortable and painless as they could be. Because hospice care is about making patients feel as comfortable as possible instead of directly treating an illness, this can lead to the misconception that you have to relinquish all treatments. This is the biggest myth about hospice care; the only thing you actually relinquish is “further extreme measures,” such as another course of chemotherapy. But treating pain and employing pain management are very real and important parts of hospice care.
A third misconception is that hospice care can be provided only in some type of facility. But in reality, most hospice care takes place at home, where equipment like hospital beds, drugs, and personal care items are all provided free of charge for patients. Emotional and spiritual support are also available for patients and their families free of charge.
As senior care experts, Senior Insights can help you make the right hospice care decisions. By guiding and supporting you in reaching out to your physician to ask if hospice care is appropriate at a particular time. By guiding you in choosing the correct hospice company for your specific needs. And by giving you honest, unbiased recommendations about additional caregiving needs. (It’s all part of our holistic senior care services.)
Let us help you during this most difficult aspect of life.