This is the fourth installment of our “Things to Know” series, and in this one, we will be discussing the things that you should know about hospice care before you sign up to use those services for a loved one. Like all other types of senior care, hospice care is perfect for some people, but not for everyone. We stress that you educate yourself before you help a loved one decide what’s best for them.
First, you should know exactly what hospice care is, and what it isn’t. Hospice care is palliative care, or care that is meant to relieve pain and increase comfort. It is not medical care, although medical professionals may sometimes be present within a hospice home. This is care primarily designed for end of life care, when you and your loved one’s medical team has decided that nothing more can be accomplished through prolonged medical treatments. This can be difficult for families to comprehend, but hospice care is not for helping to treat medical conditions, but to make the final stage of life as easy as possible for the person that is suffering.
Next, know that there are often spiritual elements to hospice care, and it is not uncommon to find clergymen here. Never is religion and thoughts about what happens after we die more prevalent than when someone knows that they have reached the end of their life. Most people are comforted by having religious assistance at this time–both those that are suffering and their family–but not everyone. If this is a concern for your family, be sure to look at what clergy options the hospice care centers that you are considering has before you make your final decision.
Finally, know that insurance companies do not always cover hospice care. Most now will if a doctor confirms that your loved one has six weeks or less left to live, but before you rely on insurance for this, it is best to double check. This goes for both Medicare and Medi-Cal, too. You want insurance to cover this if you have it, so it’s always best to confirm that your loved one is completely covered before you sign any paperwork. This is more precautionary than anything, but it is still smart to do.
Again, hospice care is perfect for some people, while others may not be happy here in a strange place. If this latter point is a concern, you may want to consider in-home hospice care. This version of in-home care takes all of the comforts of hospice care, but provides them in your loved one’s own living space, making a relocation unnecessary and taking their needs even further into account. This can also be helpful if your loved one suffers from dementia, as even at this late stage, a familiar setting can help preserve memories.