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What is Hospice Care?

Making the decision to enlist Hospice Care for a loved one can be very emotional and overwhelming. It signifies the end of treatment for a terminal condition and focuses on the quality of life for those with an advanced incurable disease. Some people think using hospice means that they are giving up, but Hospice simply focuses on comfort, compassion, and gaining control of physical pain during the last stage of life.

Here are key points associated with Hospice Services:

Hospice is specialized healthcare whose focus is on pain management and comfort. Hospice care can be selected when it is determined that life expectancy for any terminal condition is 6 months or less. There will no longer be treatment administered to "cure" the terminal health condition. Please note, someone on hospice care can and many do, live beyond the six month time frame and they are still eligible to receive the services after being re-certified by the physician.

A person that is placed on Hospice can change their mind and leave Hospice and restart standard medical care at any time. In some instances the Hospice care benefits the person receiving the care so much that they are able to extend their lives and leave the program.

Hospice can take place in a Medicare approved hospice facility or in the majority of cases, at home, assisted living or nursing facility. If an in-facility care option is selected, the family should understand that charges for normal "room & board" will be the responsibility of the family. Investigate out of pocket costs before making selection between in-home vs. in-facility.

To qualify for Hospice Care at home, there must be a willing, able and available caregiver in the home. Hospice provides some personal care assistance such as bathing and dressing, however, it does NOT provide full time caregivers. Many families select professional caregivers from Home Care agencies.

The Hospice Care team will typically consist of a physician, nurse, social worker, counselor, physical/occupational/speech therapists, nursing assistants, and volunteers. The regular physician can also be included as part of the team.

Under Hospice you will receive a host of services including: physician and nursing, medical equipment (hospital bed, wheelchair, walker, beside commode, lift, etc.), drugs for symptom control and pain, homemaker services, therapy, social worker, dietary counseling, grief counseling, massage therapy, short term inpatient care if needed for pain and symptom management and short term respite care.

Once Hospice Care has been selected, the following costs will NO LONGER be covered under Medicare: treatments intended to cure the terminal illness, drugs intended to cure the illness, care from any provider that wasn't established by the hospice team, room and board, care in an emergency room or ambulance, inpatient facility unless it has been set up by your hospice team.

Seeking hospice and palliative care isn't about giving up hope. It's really about finding the appropriate level of care in one's final weeks or months. For many, the comfort of home and spending time with loved ones is desired over the cold, sterile setting of a hospital room. If you have made the decision to transition to hospice care and need information regarding In-Home care services, please contact Easy Living Services at 770-442-8664. We are here to help!

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