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The Importance of Quality Hospice Care

Posted by on Mar 16, 2016 in Senior Citizen Care | 0 comments

Watching a loved one struggle to perform even the simplest daily tasks, but worse, bear the unbearable pains and sufferings, the effects of a chronic, terminal illness, can prove too much for any family to bear. Because the effects of a terminal illness affect not merely those who are sick, but also their families, which share the stress and the uncertainty with regard to what the future really holds, a form of medical and emotional aid has been designed to help both patients and their families find the relief they need during their most difficult times. This aid is called Hospice Care.

A specialized form medical assistance for those entering (and those who are already in) the final stages of a terminal illness, Hospice care offers patients the treatments they need, while also underlining the significance of spiritual well-being.

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, hospice care attends to the medical, spiritual, mental and emotional needs of patients and their families, helping relieve them of the stress brought about by the illness and allowing everyone’s focus to shift towards closure. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), an estimated 1.5 to 1.6 million individuals in the US are receiving Hospice care services. These services are extended to those suffering from Cancer, Dementia, Heart Disease, Lung Disease, Stroke or Coma, Kidney Disease, Non-ALS Motor Neuron, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, HIV/Aids, or other forms of terminal illness. As against the thought of many that hospice care is intended only for seniors, the NHPCO says that the ages of patients range from 24 years old or below to 85 years old and beyond.

Due to the distinctiveness of patient condition and needs, hospice treatment is, likewise, designed to address these distinctions. Hospice service has four types or levels or care:

Routine Home Care – This is designed for patients whose symptoms can be maintained by physical therapy and medication. Care for patients is provided by registered nurses, counselors and health aide professionals who pay them scheduled regular visits.

In-patient Care – This is for patients suffering from temporarily uncontrolled symptoms and, thus, need constant medical supervision.

Respite Care – Patients are temporarily brought to health facilities where they may stay for five days (though this may be extended). Respite care also allows family members who act as their patient’s caregivers from the stressful, exhaustive and physically strenuous emotional demands and medical routines required by their ill loved one.

Continuous Nursing Care – This type of hospice care is designed as an alternative for patients with uncontrolled symptoms, but who choose not to enter an inpatient facility. Hospice professionals provide patients with a 24-hour aid at the patients’ own home.

Many patients receive different levels of hospice care due to their changing symptoms and medical needs. Hospice needs range from 7 days or less to 180 days. According to the website SeniorAdvice.com, the approximate daily rates for the different levels of hospice care are as follows: hospital care, $1,756.00; nursing facility care, $284.00; routine home care, $100.00; and, private facility care, $200.00.

Patients and their families may avail of government assistance through Medicare and Medicaid; however, these government aids have specific limitations where treatment is the issue.

For Medicare, patients under its Part A and Part B plans are benefitted with payment (by Medicare) for essential medical treatments, like medical prescriptions, supplies, therapy services, and counseling. Medicare, however, does not cover:

  • Treatments to cure an illness (such as when patients seek and try new treatments, medications or surgeries)
  • Payment for room and board if entering an inpatient facility is a voluntary decision of the patient
  • Payment for ambulance transportation or emergency room visits unless these are requested by a trained hospice professional.

While Medicaid, on its part, covers the entirety of hospice expenses for the benefit of those who are very young or with low income, this government aid, like Medicare, does not cover payment for attempts to cure an illness (with the exception of patients under the age of 21). All types of medication and treatment are limited to controlling symptoms and managing pain; thus, pursuit of a curative treatment will result in a loss of benefits from Medicaid.

Hospice care works to help lessen the pains and sufferings experienced by patients; it provides them with all the attention, support, and possible relief that they need and deserve. At the same time, it also helps families achieve a greater sense of peace by allowing them to focus on good memories, rather than burden them with bandaging wounds and administering medication. Hospice care, specifically, is aimed at helping preserve everyone’s quality of life. To be able to provide patients with the type of hospice care they need, it will be best for families to consult with Medicaid and Medicare or with their insurance provider for the best treatment that their loved ones deserve.

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