WHAT IS HOSPICE AND HOW CAN IT HELP?

QUESTION:

My mother’s doctor has recommended hospice for her. I am not sure if this is the right decision for our family. He says there is no cure for her and she will continue to go down hill. Her life expectancy at this point is about 6 months. I am concerned about the cost of her care. What will Medicare pay for if she goes into hospice care?

ANSWER:
Choosing hospice care is a difficult decision. Your mother’s doctor has told you that she is terminally ill and will probably only survive another 6 months or less. Hospice is a special way of caring for people like your mother. The goal of hospice is to provide care for her and to manage her pain and other symptoms, not to cure her illness.

Your mother or her health-care representative will have to sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered benefits. Medicare will still pay for covered benefits for any health problems that are not related to her terminal illness.

She will be provided with physical, psychological, and social and counseling services through hospice, and they also work with you and the rest of the family to help you cope with her illness. The hospice benefit will allow her to stay in the comfort of her home with family members and will endeavor to keep her comfortable. Discuss your concerns with the hospice team and let them help you with this decision.

Personally, I have had experiences with hospice with family members and they were a Godsend. After months or possibly years of caring for a sick loved one, the family is exhasted and possibly have been paying out of pocket for many expenses. Hospice will come in and help with taking care of your loved one and help with those expenses. Many times families do not want to have to come to terms of the finality of putting their loved one on hospice. It is very hard to admit that the end is near. However, once this is established, the help and services you and your loved one will receive from hospice will be immeasureable! They understand what you are going through and will be there to talk to and help you deal with your grief.

It is also hard for the doctor to give families this bad news and many times people who desperately need hospice care go for months without it. Don’t feel as if you are giving up on your loved one. You are just making sure they get the very best care in these circumstances.

Please write to me, Karyn Blake, here at My Part D USA’s blog at kblake@MyPartDusa.org. Or you can email this article to a friend.

Published by mypartdusa on March 31, 2008 in Other Topics of Interest.

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