Monday, September 11, 2006

Nuts & Bolts: What I Learned about Hospice

True or False:

1.) Everyone in the United States can look forward to receiving hospice in the period prior to death.
2.) People with cancer receive hospice in priority.
3.) Your GP needs to provide a referral.
4.) Medicare pays for hospice.
5.) Hospice care lasts only six months.


1.) True. Hospice is available to anyone as an end-of-life comfort care service. In 2000, 1 in 4 Americans who died received hospice.

2.) False. Many of us think hospice is only for cancer patients. The majority of hospice patients have cancer, but hospice is also available to people with other life-threatening illnesses, including Alzheimer's.

3.) True. You can request this referral, however, from your doctor or have a hospice representative contact your doctor.

4.) True. Hospice is also covered by most insurers.

5.) False. Hospice care usually lasts less than six months, but not always. The period can be longer. Hospice also provides bereavement support for up to a year.

Death is not something most people want to think or talk about, but information is power: any person facing the advancing stages of a terminal illness is eligible for palliative care. It is also interesting to note that there are now different types of hospice in the United States, both non-profit and for profit. Bea is fortunate to have Hospice & Palliative Care of Cape Cod, a non-profit service which provides health aides, nurses, doctors, social workers, volunteers, chaplains, and grief counseling. For more information, see their Web site.


Blogger EllenDottysyoungest said...

I was stunned how little people know about Hospic - having seen 2 friends and now my mother thru Hospic care I can't say enough about them, at least the people we have here on the east end of Long Island.
When she knew she was failing faster than we'd thought possible my mom would say "when will I be sick enough for Hospice?" - I think it's important to note that the potential hospice patient, at least for the Hospice care we have out of Southampton, NY, needs to have been diagnosed as "terminal". Since Parkinson's is not a "terminal" illness (most Parkinson's patients die from lung complications, such as pneumonia, like my mother did) she didn't qualify until she was hit with very bad pneumonia and the doctor was willing to say she had less than a week left. Similar with AIDS patients, they must have one of the AIDS related illnesses in an advanced enough stage that Hospice can come in when it's closer to the end. I'm intriqued that Auntie Bea qualifies as she appears to only suffer from advanced age and a general slowing down and/or failure of some bodily functions. Perhaps being bedridden helps qualify someone. I'll have to look into this - although I sincerely hope not to need their wonderful care for anyone for many years to come.

11:09 AM  

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