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Hospice FAQ

Mother and Son discuss Hospice for Dad

Hospice can be provided in your home, in a nursing home…..anywhere you consider home.  The care provided is by experts dedicated to ensuring that you and your family receive care that improves the quality of life you and your family are entitled to. We know that you have questions, here is a list of the most common things people ask...
When is the right time to start the Hospice Conversation?
Hospice services can make more of a difference to patient and family comfort and quality of life when the hospice is given more time to care for the patient and family.  Many people whose family members received hospice care only for a few days before they died say that they wished that they had started hospice care earlier.

Here are some signs that it is time to consider hospice:

  • Treatments are no longer working or are causing more pain and discomfort than they seem to be worth.
  • The doctor says your life expectancy is 6 months or less.
  •  The patient wants to focus on the quality of their life rather than curing or receiving treatments for a non-curable disease/illness.
  • The patient has serious pain or other symptoms that are proving very difficult to manage, such as progressive weight loss, severe fatigue, difficulty with personal cares (dressing, bathing, and toileting), difficulty breathing or swallowing, sleeping more than being awake, not wanting to eat, and continuing fluid build-up in the body.
  • Family members are beginning to feel overwhelmed emotionally or physically by providing daily care for the loved one and unsure whether they are providing the best possible care; they would benefit from support and guidance from trained professionals.
How do I know what a "terminal" condition is?
;A terminal illness or condition is a disease that could possibly result in the death of the patient regardless of any treatment interventions" (www.merriam-webster.com ).

More often than not many people think that a terminal condition is "cancer" or that the person's life will end tomorrow.  The best determinate to knowing if a condition is terminal is to ask your physician or consider if it is life limiting.  The following are SOME examples of qualifying conditions for which hospice is beneficial:
  • Cardiac Disease  including Heart Failure (CHF)
  • Chronic Lung Disease including COPD or Respiratory Failure
  • Kidney Disease such as Chronic Renal Failure
  • Stroke/TIA's
  • Coma
  • Cancer
  • Neurological Conditions such as Parkinson's and ALS
Hospice can also be helpful for other conditions that are serious, terminal or causing a disruption in your quality of life.
Who pays for hospice care?
The Medicare hospice benefit, enacted by Congress in 1982, is the predominate source of payment for hospice care.  More than 88% (2012 NHPCO Facts & Figures) of patient days are covered by Medicare.

Other payment sources include Managed Care or Private Insurance, Medicaid (same reimbursement as Medicare), self-pay (private pay), and uncompensated or charity care.  There must be a life expectance of six months or less (if the disease runs normal course) and there must be physician certification of limited life expectancy. 

If a person does not have coverage through Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance company, Interim Hospice usually works with the person and their family to ensure needed services can be provided.

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