Friday, October 4, 2013
CANCER CARE Preparing for hospice care Sometimes patients succumb to a disease, in spite of the best treatments and support. When the time comes for a family to confront a loved one’s declining health, hospice care can be a dignified way to make that person’s final days as comforting as possible. Hospice is a type of care designed to make the final moments of a person’s life as pain-free and manageable as possible. It can take place in a medical facility, but very often hospice care occurs at home or wherever the ill person feels most comfortable. Hospice care is usually the last step when all other options have been exhausted. Making the decision to move a loved one to hospice care can be an emotionally wrenching time. Decisions such as these may be better made at a time in a person’s life when he or she is not sick. That is why living wills that spell out details for end-oflife care can be quite valuable.
Decisions are made with a level head and not wrought with emotions. Such living wills also can take the pressure off of family members who may not feel comfortable making such decisions on their own or in concert with relatives. Hospice is a type of care and a philosophy that focuses on the palliative care of terminally ill patients. Rather than providing medication to try to treat the illness, medicine is offered to make a person more comfortable and remove any pain. Psychological therapy may also be offered to help the person come to terms with the end of life. Although hospice is a concept that has gradually evolved since the 11th century, the principles of modern hospice care can trace their roots to the 1950s and Dame Cicely Saunders, a nurse and social worker who is known as the creator of the hospice movement. If hospice care is outlined in a dying person’s living will or
expressed wishes, there are some guidelines that can be followed by the sick individual. • Visit various medical care centers to see if away-from-home options provide the care and environment you desire. If Be sure to establish what type of hospice care you prefer. This may include care within a nursing home or hospital, or in the comfort of your own home. • Sign a medical durable power of attorney. This signed document gives authority to an adult age 18 or older, who then has the right to make necessary medical and healthcare decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. • Clearly indicate your wishes regarding resuscitation. A signed document may alert emergency healthcare personnel or others of your wishes not to be resuscitated. This document must be signed by you and a doctor and witnessed by others.
• Decide on the duration of care. Hospice care generally lasts six months. This enables a long stretch of palliative care. Should you live beyond the time period, hospice care can continue. Studies have shown that patients who receive hospice care for at least 30 to 60 days gain greater benefit than those who are placed in hospice only in their final days. • Investigate financial options for hospice. Medicare and Medicaid provide hospice coverage in 44 states. Many private insurance plans have a hospice benefit as well. Understand how payment is made to figure out if private funding will be necessary. Not all hospice programs are the same. Certain core models of care are followed by many hospice facilities, but options vary. Hospice can provide comfort in a person’s final days and help sufferers better enjoy life and time spent with loved ones in these last days.
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