by Michelle Kicherer of www.BananaPitch.com
Hospice care is a form of “end of life care” for those terminally ill and require special help in order to make their time as comfortable as possible, as well as to support their family though this tough time. Many hospice nurses help with important decision-making by offering educated recommendations and helpful resources, including counseling, to the affected family.
Those with Alzheimer’s disease will often reach a point at which their body systems begin to shut down and those affected are no longer able to digest food properly, or cannot use their muscles very well, including their lungs and swallowing reflexes. At this point, medical professionals typically will make an assessment to determine the level of the patient’s health and functioning, and then may suggest hospice care if the time is right. Hospice nurses make every effort to make the final period of someone’s life as peaceful as possible, for which, family members of the patient are extremely grateful, as well as for the additional guidance and support.
When is an individual’s hospice care covered under Medicare?
- When the person is determined by a physician to be terminally ill and it is believed they will not live past six months
- When the person has Medicare Part A
- When the person (or their family members) waive any other medical treatments to be covered under Medicare, and allocate all treatment payments to go toward hospice care
What types of things does hospice care provide?
- Home Health Aide (i.e. having a nurse come into the home, or be with the patient in their living place)
- Physical, Occupational or Speech Therapy
- Bereavement counseling for family members
- Prescription drugs
In some cases, patients receiving hospice care may begin to recover or improve in some ways, thus increasing their life expectancy beyond the six month period originally predicted by their physician. In these cases, treatment options are reassessed and patients can receive multiple 60-day periods of care rather than a six month-long plan. Sometimes physicians are required to re-determine eligibility.