Caregivers often struggle with how to care for their loved ones during the final months of life. Hospice care is just one option for patients who have six months or fewer left. It allows patients to live the rest of their lives in their home with the supervision of nurses or social workers to ensure their comfort.
Of course, as with all end-of-life care options, there are pros and cons of hospice care. It is important to realize that there are many misconceptions about this option, so caregivers should conduct as much research as possible when deciding if hospice care is right for a loved one.
Focus on Comfort
One of the major benefits of hospice care is the focus on comfort rather than cure. In most cases, patients who receive hospice treatment have terminal conditions or illnesses that preclude a cure. Rather than suffering through tests and painful treatments at a hospital or nursing home, they are given the dignity and comfort of their own home.
Comfort does, however, come at a price. Although hospice care provides the patient (and caregiver) with access to a medical professional, the treatment options are limited. It can also be stressful for a caregiver who must watch his or her loved one suffer in the home.
Costs Related to Hospice Care
Hospice care is usually covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. It is also less expensive than other options for seniors, such as nursing homes, but there are no guarantees. According to Cancer.org, the agency providing treatment must be approved by Medicare in order to ensure coverage. The same rules generally apply with other public and private insurance providers.
There are also some hospice programs that offer free or discounted services to patients with limited financial resources. This usually requires that the patient exhaust all other avenues of financing, such as family members and non-liquid assets. There are instances in which a nursing home makes more financial sense than hospice care.
Unfortunately, hospice care can be painful for both the patient and his or her caregivers. Because this form of care is intended for patients in the last months of their lives, it drives home the reality of illness. This is especially true for hospice programs that take the patient out of the home, such as skilled nursing facilities.
Emotional & Psychological Support
Another benefit of hospice care is the support system created by this option. Physicians, nurses and social workers become an invaluable source of comfort and information, which can help both patients and caregivers cope with coming obstacles.
According to Care.com, many hospice care programs offer bereavement services to caregivers and family members of a patient after he or she has passed on. This is particularly helpful because the family can seek comfort from the same people who helped their loved one through their last months of life.
There are many reasons why patients and caregivers choose hospice care over other options. It usually constitutes more personal care than nursing homes and related facilities, and provides additional comfort to everyone. Before deciding if you should choose hospice care for your loved one, talk to representatives of different services as well as your insurance provider to help make the decision.