When the word hospice is mentioned, frequently people shudder, connecting hospice to imminent death. For many, their experience with hospice care is historically related to quick arrangements made just prior to a loved one’s imminent decline and death. Therefore any mention of hospice care well before a loved one is actively dying can be very threatening and seem quite inappropriate. However, hospice care when timed well before active dying can provide an enhanced end of life experience for all involved.
Hospice care came to be more visible in the US in the 1970s and over the years has remained both a scary topic to whisper about and a well recognized and respected process that provides comfort and enhanced quality of life for those who are dying and opportunities of healing and support for their families, friends and caregivers. The philosophy of hospice is best accomplished when put into service well before imminent death is expected, although it can be beneficial no matter how short the time of services and care.
Implementing hospice care when a person is just learning that their condition is terminal, when a senior is learning that natural end of life is approaching or when curative measures are no longer available provides the person and those who care for them an opportunity to gradually prepare for death, to assure symptoms like pain and anxiety are addressed and reception of supportive resources like those provided by social workers, chaplains, music therapists and others.
Hospice care also provides a streamlined approach to attaining needed equipment and medications along with access to a supportive team of professional care providers 24 hours a day. Hospice services are based upon a patient qualifying for care as determined by an intake team and specific Medicare and/or insurance guidelines. All hospice costs are covered by insurance or Medicare.
In essence hospice care is designed for a person who has a life expectancy of 6 months or less and their condition is progressively deteriorating, however those who live longer than 6 months and continue to decline in condition often remain qualified for ongoing hospice coverage until their time of death occurs. When thought of in this manner, hospice care becomes a logical component of a thorough Minnesota home health care plan for elderly seniors and their families in the geriatric care management process.