Care and Comfort in a Loved One’s Final Days

Hospice provides support to the terminally ill and to family members

Hospice care provides comfort and support to individuals and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments.

Hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team of medical, human health and service professionals.

These include physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, grief counselors, volunteers, spiritual caregivers/chaplains and family members.

Who pays for hospice?

If the individual is a Medicare beneficiary, hospice is a covered benefit under Medicare Part A. All other Medicare services continue under Parts A and B, including those of the person’s physician offers. Hospice payments do not interfere with any other Medicare payments for other illnesses, diseases or care.

In addition, 46 states plus the District of Columbia offer hospice care as a Medicaid benefit.

What services may a hospice provider offer?

A hospice care provider offers a variety of services for individuals and their families. These services include:

  •     Physician services.
  •     Nursing care.
  •     Medications for symptom control and pain relief.
  •     Home health care and homemaker services.
  •     Social work and counseling support.
  •     Medical supplies and equipment.
  •     Spiritual counseling.
  •     Dietary counseling.
  •     Rehabilitation services like physical therapy.

What questions should I ask a hospice provider?

Each hospice participant and their loved ones have unique medical, financial, emotional and spiritual needs and preferences. It is important to put these first when choosing a provider. Next, it is important to determine if a hospice is accredited and certified. Then, you may want to ask questions about insurance plans and payment requirements. Don’t forget to figure out what services the organization offers and if the provider has someone on-call 24 hours a day.

Other important questions to consider are:

  •     What expectations does the hospice have for the individual and their support system?
  •     What support and training programs does the hospice offer caregivers?
  •     Are there bereavement support programs available through the hospice?

What value does a hospice agency offer older adults and their loved one?

For individuals with life-limiting illnesses, hospice offers a personalized set of services designed to provide physical comfort and emotional and spiritual support to them and their loved ones. This focused on personalized and coordinated care helps provider ensure that a person’s remaining days can be as peaceful and painless as possible.

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