Should I Consider Hospice?

August 13, 2009 at 1:12 am Leave a comment

For some, hospice is a scary word—they think it means the end is near. For others, the word, hospice represents a time of peace and support. Why the discrepancy? I admit I was on the apprehensive side of the word. My mother was 92, had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and I was her primary (and basically only) caregiver.

The word “hospice” made me feel that my mother was dying and I was giving up. Not true.  Hospice isn’t a place or even an organization–it’s a way of thinking–it’s about honoring the time you have. Caregivers struggle with this decision because for many, they feel as if they’ve failed. Hospice helped me understanding that my mother’s passing was natural. I began to realize how very important this time in our lives was for all of us–and that it wasn’t necessarily happening tomorrow and my mother’s life could still have quality.

Misconceptions about Hospice:

  • There’s only one hospice and it’s throughout the country
  • Only a doctor can recommend a person for hospice
  • Hospice means you’re dying within 6 months
  • Hospice means you won’t be able to take your normal medications
  • You have to pay for hospice services
  • You only need hospice if you’re planning on dying at home
  • You only need hospice if you’re planning on using pain medicaiton (such as with cancer)

None of these are accurate. Let’s break them down:

  • There are many types of hospice. Some are public and not-for-profit, and some are private. Medicare actually covers the cost of public hospice and if you’re over 65, you’ve already paid for these services.
  • Anyone can recommend someone for hospice. You can call your local hospice for yourself, your spouse, or for a neighbor. They have doctors who work closely with hospice who can assess your situation.
  • Hospice does not kick you out if you haven’t passed away after six months–or a year. Your situation is reassessed and the best care is recommended–which may include continuing with hospice if you still have a life-limiting condition.
  • You may continue with your medications–for Parkinson’s, cancer, whatever diseases you have. The cost of these medications are often picked up by hospice.
  • Most hospice services are availble to everyone with no additional costs, but do realize that all hospices are not created equal and they vary as to what they can offer you. Many large cities have more than one kind of hospice, so be sure to ask what services they have and if there are any fees attached.
  • Many hospices have hospitals for those who need additional nursing and medical support–or if you do not wish to die at home. Again, this varies so be sure to ask ahead of time.
  • Yes, hospice can help you with pain medication, which is called palliative care–whether you choose to stay at home or in a hospice care center (hospital) or they can also assist you if you’re in a nursing/care home or a traditional hospital.

I hope this helps you make a more informed decision. After I got over the initial “word shock,” I found it a relief to have hospice support not only my mom, but my family and me. They offered physical care, medical services, bereavement counseling, and faith support. I didn’t feel alone, and I knew that my mother was getting the care she needed. Most of all, hospice gave us time to be a family.

Entry filed under: caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , .

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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