Baby Boomers are beginning to reach the age when they, their spouse, or their elderly parents may be nearing the end of their lives. This new challenge brings with it a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty, as well as the possibility of pain and discomfort. Although we would all prefer the end of our lives to be as easy and peaceful as possible, we are not sure how to bring this about. One way to get the help you need is to call on hospice to provide assistance during the final months of life.
This week we have a special guest post by Lucille Rosetti from TheBereaved.org. She has written a book called "Life After Death - A Wellness Guide for the Bereaved." You can use the above link to her website to contact her for more information about her book. In the thoughtful post below, she discusses common questions people have about hospice.
Three Questions to Ask When Considering Hospice Care
by: Lucille Rosetti
When people run out of options for curing or treating an illness, they and their families often have to make some difficult decisions. No one wants to see a family member in pain or discomfort, so hospice care is frequently one of the options on the table.
For most of our lives, medical decisions are fairly simple and easy — take this antibiotic, or eat more vegetables. However, for people facing the end of their lives, the decisions are rarely simple and never easy. You have a lot of questions, so here are a few basic answers to help make you and your loved one feel more comfortable about hospice care.
What can I expect from hospice care? Comfort.
Hospice care is relatively diverse, so the nuances of what to expect vary greatly depending on your needs. In general, the goal of hospice care is to give someone the best possible life they can have in whatever time remains. Some people mistakenly think hospice care is only for those who are about to die. In reality, hospice care is about providing physical comfort to those whose terminal illness is no longer responding to treatment. There is a misconception that hospice care is a last resort, or that it only occurs shortly before death. While that is true in some cases, there are many people who live for several months or even longer in hospice care.
Who will be caring for my loved one? Professionals.
Depending on your situation, you may have a variety of caregivers in your hospice team, from nurses to dieticians to personal care assistants to social workers. Taking the time to get to know the individuals on your hospice care team will reduce negative emotions, such as anxiety or awkwardness, and help everyone work together with more compassion and empathy. Building rapport with the team will help both you and your loved one have an easier time trusting the professionals and understanding medical decisions.
This is especially true for the hospice care social worker. Their job is to provide support and comfort to your loved one, making sure their wishes are understood. These are highly trained professionals, and they must have a master’s degree in social work, which often includes around 1,000 hours of hands-on practical experience.
Some people may wish for their loved one to receive care from a licensed osteopath, who can provide a more holistic approach. However, while Medicare doesn’t offer coverage for holistic medicine, they do offer coverage from physicians who are licensed as osteopaths. If you would like expanded coverage for your loved one, consider looking into a Medicare Advantage plan, which offers a number of different options for you and your family to explore. (Some Medicare Supplements may also offer you choices which will fit your needs. You should always explore the best Medicare plan for your situation well in advance of needing hospice care or any other specialized treatments.)
How will I manage things when my loved one passes away? Day by Day.
There are a great many things to do and consider after a loved one passes away. Making sure you have a clear understanding of their end-of-life wishes can make this process exponentially easier. Hospice care workers help ease the burden of end-of-life care for family members and caregivers, but they won’t be involved in how to manage the burden after death.
To keep things running smoothly, be sure your loved one shares their important documents with you, such as their will, insurance information, living will, asset information, and financial records. Your hospice care team can help you know which documents you need and help you start difficult conversations with your loved one about end-of-life arrangements. Talk to them about how they want to be remembered: funeral or memorial, burial or cremation, flowers or donations.
Moving into hospice care can be scary. To many, it signifies that your loved one has entered the final stages of life. The emotional turmoil can be draining for you and your family member entering hospice. You can find comfort in remembering that hospice care isn’t about dying. It is about prioritizing comfort, living life to the fullest, and celebrating a person surrounded by love.
Our thanks to guest poster: Lucille Rosetti
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Photo credit: provided by Lucille Rosetti - photo from Pexels