When someone receives a terminal diagnosis, they often feel out of control. A patient hears what the doctor has said, but isn’t really listening. The default is to do whatever the doctor tells them to do. Often, a patient undergoes treatment that impacts their quality of life.
A better alternative is to enter hospice care. The misnomer is that hospice means you are giving up. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hospice care puts you back in control. By contacting a local hospice provider, you are giving yourself the gift of life. The goal of hospice is to improve the quality of life in your last months. The focus is on comfort, controlling pain and managing symptoms so you can still do the things you enjoy doing.
When patients enter hospice care, the most common phrase we hear is “I wish I did this sooner”. That’s because hospice myths are so widespread that most patients don’t come into hospice until the very end of their life. That, potentially, means that they have spent months going through painful or debilitating treatments instead of spending time doing what they love and with family.
Think of hospice this way: Hospice means shifting from one set of goals (how to get longer life through a cure) to another set of goals (how to get the best quality of life out of whatever time is left).
- Traditional end of life treatment: You can die in a hospital hooked up to machines that are doing little to halt the process of dying
- Hospice end of life treatment: You can focus on your relationships, attend a child’s graduation, living in a deeper more meaningful way and die at home knowing you have given yourself and your loved ones a true sense of closure.
What does hospice do?
Hospice care provides skilled staff and volunteers to help administer medications, assist with daily activities, and aid wherever possible. Hospice offers a more holistic approach to your care and helps support your family during this time. Comfort is not just physical; hospice offers emotional and mental comfort as well.
Hospice care is provided in your home, where you are most comfortable. Hospice arranges for all needed equipment and supplies to be delivered to you and staff and trained hospice volunteers for
support. Studies have shown that hospice care lowers hospitalization rates, and the number of invasive procedures performed at the end of life, keeping medical costs significantly lower.
How is hospice care paid for?
Hospice is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans. It’s always a good idea to check with your insurance company. Medicare and Medicaid cover hospices that they have approved. Check eligibility before choosing a provider or facility.
How do I enter hospice care?
Doctors may not recommend hospice care unless you ask. Some doctors are uncomfortable talking about end of life issues. All patients vary in their health; therefore, doctors may also find it difficult to determine if a patient qualifies for the 6-month window. Don’t let this stop you from exploring hospice. Have an honest conversation with your doctor about your wishes.
Hospice is an essential component of end of life care. Hospice allows you to have a better quality of life during your final months and puts you in control. Most importantly, hospice does more than just keep you comfortable. Hospice provides training, assistance and support for your family and caregivers.