Being placed in hospice care is a difficult situation. Hospice means that one's life expectancy is estimated to be less than six months. For some, hospice is unexpectedly thrusted on an individual with the unwanted news of terminal illness. For others, it is the inevitable culmination of years battling a disease. For all, it is comfort care provided to maximize the life that remains.
What is hospice?
Hospice is an entitlement program under Medicare for those 65 and older who are diagnosed with a terminal illness and given six months to live. Hospice services are available for all ages, but Medicare only pays for treatment of those 65 and older. For those younger than 65, many health care plans cover varying forms of hospice services.
The Importance of Hospice Nurses
For families who have seen the benefits of hospice at work, many have characterized hospice nurses to be angels. Hospice nurses are medically trained registered nurses and nursing assistants who have big hearts to care for their patients. They provide comfort care and put patients at ease, coordinate medication, and arrange services. One of the most important services that improves the quality of life for a hospice patient and their loved ones is non-medical home care. Hospice nurses do not perform nonmedical, in-home care, but they can facilitate these services.
Benefits of in-home and nonmedical home care for hospice patients
1. Hospice patients prefer to be at home. There is no place like home, and it is no surprise that individuals on hospice want to be in the comfort of their own home. Being at home means a lot of work for an individual who may not have the strength, energy or health to live alone. This includes everything from meal preparation to clean up to bathing to errands and other household chores.
2. Hospice nurses do not provide non-medical services. As the name implies, non-medical home care services are not delivered by medical professionals, i.e. hospice nurses. A hospice nurse coordinates non-medical caregivers to come to one's home and assist in the cooking, chores, and personal hygiene activities of the hospice patient.
3. Non-medical home care allows families to spend time together, not on chores. The goal of hospice is to maximize one's remaining time. This means less vacuuming, laundry, and time in the kitchen and more time with family and loved ones. Nonmedical in-home services perform the routine housekeeping tasks for the patient and their family. Often, friends and family members assist the hospice patient on errands, transportation, and housekeeping. Caregiving can be extremely stressful, and further emotionally exacerbated by the imminent loss of a close relative or loved one. Having an in-home caregiver assist with some of the tasks removes the burden on family members and reduces stress. Additionally, it puts the hospice patient's mind at ease as they are already aware that their situation is emotionally difficult and burdensome for those around them. This allows loved ones to focus on one another and not on mundane activities.
If you have a loved one who receives hospice or palliative care and they are in need of additional services to ease the burden activities of daily living, errands, transportation and personal hygiene, then call Home Instead Senior Care of Lehigh County at 610-770-7773. Home Instead offers services throught the Lehigh Valley including Allentown, Bethlehem, Macungie, Fogelsville, Schnecksville and the surrounding communities.
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