Health & Exercise


There’s a time in nearly every elderly, or terminally ill, person’s life when they have to face that it’s time for them to go on Hospice Care. For many of us, as caregivers, and, adult children, when we hear the word “hospice”, we automatically associate it with dying. However, having been on both sides, both as a professional, and as an adult daughter whose mother was on hospice care, I can tell you that Hospice is a wonderful service!

Most, if not all, Hospice services will provide care wherever it is that your loved one calls home; the home that they’ve lived in for years, an assisted living community, or a skilled nursing facility.

Hospice services can include:
*Comforting care, provided by an interdisciplinary team
*Pain Management
*Comforting Treatments
*Equipment and supplies
*Therapies, including (depending on the hospice company) music therapy and massage therapy
*Patient and family education
*Bereavement Services

The Hospice Care Team includes the patient and their family, the patients physician, Hospice’s Medical Director, Registered Nurses, Hospice Aides, A Licensed Social Worker, Spiritual Coordinator, Bereavement Counselor, Dietician, Pharmacist, Physical, Occupational, and speech/language therapists, volunteers.

Hospice is a benefit that is 100% covered for eligible patients under Medicare, most state Medicaid plans, and many private insurance plants.

Many people are surprised to hear that often time patients even GRADUATE from Hospice care; which means that they are no longer eligible for services. This can actually be both a positive and a negative, because while you’re thrilled that they no longer need the services, which means that they’re gaining weight, and are no longer “failure to thrive”, they have probably become very close to their Hospice team, and often times looked forward to the visits from their care team.

If they are in a home setting, or even if they are in an Assisted Living Community, and you are there a lot, YOU have probably become very close to their hospice team. Rest assured, that they will stay in touch, and monitor their weight, to see if they become eligible again, and you can ALWAYS call them at any time, should you have any questions. They really are there for you, as much as your loved one!

When talking to families who have loved ones go on Hospice Services, they offered the following advice:
Have the family meet with hospice agency first, ask lots of questions, and then if they feel that hospice will benefit their loved one, talk to the agency about their loved ones personality, family history, work history, etc… It is extremely helpful for hospice to know a lot about the person before that first meeting with them.

During that initial meeting, make sure that the patient knows that this is their decision (if they are capable of still making their own decisions), so that they don’t feel a complete loss of control. They can control how much hospice is involved and it can start very slowly. For example, if they don’t like a bunch of strangers in their house, maybe starting out with a visit from a nurse every two weeks is the best way to start. By the time he gets used to them, increase those visits to once a week, and so on. It’s also helpful for the loved one to know that their family doctor recommended this particular agency, because this particular age group, for whatever reason, puts a lot of faith in their family physicians. Hospice can be particularly good at explaining to the patient that they’re there to help if he/she doesn’t want to go to the hospital anymore, and again, going on hospice service does not mean you are dying!

Hospice Volunteers can come in once or twice a week and read to the patient, sing with the patient, or make memory books with the patient. The VERY BEST GIFT that Hospice gave to my family when my mother was on their service was, the volunteer worked with her to create a memory book for each of her six children. In it was a picture of her when she was younger, something (usually a funny story!) that we didn’t know about her, 2 or three of her favorite recipes, what she was most proud of about us, and a special memory that she held of us. That book will be forever treasured, as one of my most prized possessions, and I encourage all of you, even if you don’t have a loved one on Hospice, sit down with your loved one, and make a small memory book for each of their children and grandchildren. It doesn’t have to be long and elaborate, but when they are gone, it will be absolutely priceless…I promise.

Until then,
Have a great week,

The Waynedale News Staff

Bonnie Simmons

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