Care at the End of Life; Know Your Options

CLARION, Pa. – November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. For a multitude of reasons, many people remain unaware that there are options regarding the kind of care a person can choose to receive at the end of life.

While it can be a difficult thing to think about and discuss, those who know their options and make informed decisions before they are in a crisis should have less uncertainty and a better quality of life than those who are unprepared.

Clarion Forest VNA has provided end of life care through specialized hospice and palliative care programs for almost twenty years. They work closely with the patient, family, and other health care providers to assure that the patient and family receive the care they deserve. They provide care in the patient’s home. This may include a personal care home or assisted living facility. Hospice may also be provided in a nursing home or hospital. Their goal is for the patient to be physically comfortable, at peace in their home setting, among family and friends, doing the things they want to do up until the very end.

For most of us, it is just a fact of life that one or our first concerns is how our care will be paid for. These concerns are shared by almost every family across the country. Many baby boomers are providing care for their aging parents just as they are facing their own health care issues.

Yet, for almost 30 years, the Medicare Hospice Benefit has provided a model for financing end-of-life care that can bring great relief and support to families during one of life’s most difficult times.

This benefit covers virtually all aspects of hospice care with little out-of-pocket expense to the patient or family. As a result, the financial burdens often associated with caring for a terminally-ill patient are lifted.

Hospice care also offers support to the loved ones of the patient; this brings an added level of relief to the dying person, knowing their loved ones are being cared for as well.

Hospice is paid for through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Medicaid Hospice Benefit, and most private insurers. In addition, most private health plans and Medicaid cover hospice services in 47 States and the District of Columbia. If a person does not have coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, or a private insurance company, hospices will work with the person and their family to ensure that needed services are able to be provided.

Medicare covers these hospice services and pays nearly all of their costs:

– Doctor services
– Nursing care
– Medical equipment (like wheelchairs or walkers)
– Medical supplies (like bandages and catheters)
– Drugs for symptom control and pain relief
– Short-term care in the hospital, including respite and inpatient for pain and symptom management
– Home health aide and homemaker services
– Physical and occupational therapy
– Speech therapy
– Social work services
– Dietary counseling
– Grief support

Medicare will still pay for covered benefits for any health problems that aren’t related to a terminal illness.

Hospice and palliative care involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, symptom management, emotional support, and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. Patients and families are the center of the team and are still very much involved in the plan of care and decision making for the individual. Families making end-of-life decisions for a loved one need compassion and support, not financial worries. The Medicare Hospice Benefit helps alleviate these concerns.

To learn more, contact Clarion Forest VNA Hospice at 814-297-8360.

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