It’s an all too common situation: A family is at the bedside of a loved one in the hospital who is seriously ill and nearing the end of life. Each member of the family has a different idea of what should be done and what the patient would have wanted.
Have a plan
Far too many people wait until they are in the midst of a medical crisis before thinking about what options are available or what care they or their loved ones would have wanted. Hospice professionals deal with these challenging situations every day – that’s what they are trained to do. But they also encourage people to learn about options of care early in the course of an illness.
When a family is coping with a serious illness and a cure is no longer possible, hospice provides the type of care most people say they want at the end of life: comfort and dignity.
What patients get
Considered to be the model for high-quality, compassionate care for people with a life-limiting illness, hospice care includes expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support. Care is provided by an inter-disciplinary team of professionals and trained volunteers. The wishes of the patient and family are always at the center of care.
Most hospice care is provided in the home – where the majority of Americans have said they would want to be at this time. Care is also provided in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospice centers. Care is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans and HMOs.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that between 1.5 – 1.6 million people with a life-limiting illness received care from our nation’s hospices last year. Hospice providers can help with information about care options and choices and ensure you that your wishes are a priority. They will make sure your loved ones receive support as well.
Jon Radulovic, M.A., Vice President, Communications, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, [email protected]