Category Archives: hospice information

How Much Time Do I Have Left?

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“How much time do I have left?”

That’s often the reply when a doctor says to a patient that treatments are no longer working and that a patient should consider hospice.

But maybe the question should be: “How can I make sure that the time I have left is best utilized?”

It is impossible to say exactly how much time a person has left, so the best estimate is an educated guess. Even with cancers that progress in patterns that are familiar to physicians, no one can say for sure how long a patient has left.

For a patient and his or her caregivers (and others who are close to the patient), the choices are continued (often futile) efforts to confront the terminal condition or the pursuit of meaningful life experiences during one’s remaining time.

If you search the internet for personal hospice stories, you will read of sons and daughters who tell of a parent’s final days/weeks/months and a different, special kind of closeness enjoyed with mom or dad. You will learn of survivors who were grateful for the quality experiences with their loved ones before their passings. And you will learn the value of being able to say goodbye—for the patient and the survivors.

If a patient seeks hospice care in time (there’s that word time again!), he or she may have opportunities to visit with friends and family and have conversations that may not be possible if the patient is in a hospital ICU.

“How much time do I have left?” At age 40, we might think we have another 40-50 years. At age 65, we may figure on living another 25 years or so. At age 90, we know time is shorter, but even then we may presume that death is still down the road.

When a terminal diagnosis is delivered, things become more urgent. Yes, the number of days remaining is important to consider. But the quality of those remaining days should also be considered.

For information about hospice care in metro St. Louis, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

(photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30227069@N06/4337496170, http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Considering Hospice?

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If you have been considering hospice for yourself or for your spouse, partner, parent, sibling or other family member, here are a few things you should know.

  1. The primary goal of hospice care is to provide comfort and peace of mind to patients.
  2. Hospices provide this service in private homes and care facilities.
  3. Hospice nurses and home health aides monitor a patient’s condition through in-person visits several times each week.
  4. Hospice staff members offer guidance for family members regarding care for patients. Hospice agencies provide supplies as needed, such as hospital beds, adult diapers and oxygen for home use.
  5. Hospice is a fully covered by Medicare. Other private and government-issued insurance plans typically cover hospice care completely.
  6. Hospice personnel know that patients and family members may not be familiar with hospice care and how it works. They work to assure that all concerned are well informed about the extent of care hospice offers.
  7. Although nurses and other staff are on call round-the-clock, hospices do not provide 24/7 care. In-home caregivers (including family members and home health care service providers) or nursing facility staff take care of patient needs on a day-to-day basis.
  8. Hospice care can include visits from a massage therapist who is trained to help address discomforts that typically affect hospice patients.
  9. Hospice volunteers are available to provide companionship to patients. They may read to them or simply visit and share a conversation.
  10. The hospice chaplain offers counsel to patients as well as to family members. He or she can offer ways to address grief, as necessary.
  11. Hospice does not accelerate or slow down the dying process. Its purpose is to allow patients to spend their final days living the best life possible.
  12. The hospice team will help guide caregivers through the final stages of the patient’s life.

If you have questions about hospice care in St. Louis, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.

You Can Quit Hospice

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If a patient or family member is having difficulty making the decision to transition to hospice care, you should know that a patient can stop hospice care at any time.

If, at any point after being admitted for hospice care, a patient or family member feels that the decision was made too soon, you can stop hospice care and resume your previous course of treatment.

If, after beginning hospice care, a patient has a change of heart and chooses to go back to aggressively fighting an illness, that is an option that may be exercised.

If hospice care does not meet expectations, for whatever reason, the commitment to receive hospice care can be cancelled.

The vast majority of patients and families DO continue with the hospice care program they have begun. For family members, the important factor to consider is the welfare of the patient. Is he or she better off with hospice care or with another form of care?

In a small number of cases, a patient may get better or, at least, not get worse and choose to end hospice care. With many noncancerous conditions, it is difficult to predict life expectancy of a patient.

If the fear of signing on for something you cannot step away from is causing you, as a patient or as a family member, to avoid hospice care or to postpone making the decision, don’t be afraid. You can discontinue hospice care whenever you wish.

We at Hope Hospice work hard to meet the needs of patients and families. We explain to you exactly what hospice care is and what it can and cannot do, so that our service will meet expectations.

For questions about hospice care in St. Louis, please call us at Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. We know that hospice may be an unfamiliar concept to many and we are always happy to help with answers to all your questions.

 

(photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/29778206@N04/3097490380, http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Hospice Education: A Never Ending Process

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Are more Americans using hospice? Yes. Are more Americans learning about hospice? Yes. Are there still many Americans who do not know what hospice is and what it provides? Yes.

While progress is being made, there continues to be much work to be done. Our Hope Hospice community liaison staffers are able to share a great deal of information with patients and families considering hospice. They can detail the main elements of hospice care and answer questions about the services Hope Hospice provides.

But a clearer understanding of hospice is important for all members of the public. Generally, this understanding does not occur until a family member is facing a serious threat to his or her life. Learning about hospice well before care is needed may help families and patients make more confident decisions

We applaud those who take the message of hospice directly to Americans. These include Dr. Atul Gawande whose newest book Being Mortal addresses end-of-life issues.

Online research can lead patients and family members to web postings that provide useful information about hospice. These include articles, blogs and videos.

In addition to online resources, your local minister may be able to offer guidance. We suggest that all religious leaders, especially pastors, priests and rabbis, pursue knowledge of hospice care. Since these leaders interact with so many church members seeking counsel, their acute awareness of hospice is vital.

It is also important that more members of the medical community get the full story on hospice care. Not just specialist such as oncologists and cardiologists, but also other medical professionals who can direct patients to the next steps on their life journeys.

We especially encourage individuals who have had a personal experience with hospice care to share their stories with others. A personal conversation can enlighten in ways that more formal presentations cannot.

As our effort to educate the public about hospice care continues, you may call Hope Hospice at any time with specific question about hospice in St. Louis. Call 314-984-9800.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November—Time To Learn About Hospice

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November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to call attention to hospice care in America and the people and organizations that provide that care. Hospice education is an ongoing effort. We at Hope Hospice take every opportunity we can to reach out to the St. Louis community and explain what hospice is and what it is not.

It is encouraging that information and knowledge about hospice is growing. More people have had a relative or friend on hospice care. We find, though, that as more people learn about hospice, misconceptions continue to exist.

Among the biggest misconceptions:

Hospice is a place. While in-patient hospice facilities do exist, almost all hospice care in the U.S. is administered in private homes and in care centers (nursing homes and assisted living facilities).

Hospice is only for the very last days of life. When a determination is made that a person has a life expectancy of 6 months or less, a patient can become eligible for hospice care. Because prognoses can be imprecise, many patients stay on hospice care for more than 6 month.

Hospice care is expensive. Hospice care is a fully-covered Medicare benefit.

Hospice is only for cancer patients. Many hospice patients ARE cancer patients. But other patients have conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to congestive heart failure to kidney failure.

If a patient lives beyond the initial 6-month period, he or she will be dropped from hospice care. After 6-months, a patient must be recertified. If life expectancy is still 6 months or less, hospice care can continue.

A patient can only receive hospice care from a hospice that he or she is referred to. Families and patients may prefer another hospice, based on recommendations from friends, family and neighbors. There are significant differences among hospices.

The only reason to go on hospice is to get pain medication. A major goal of hospice care is to assure a patient’s comfort. But hospice care is a complete team program that includes spiritual and emotional components. It’s not just about the meds.

Again, the sentences above in bold face are misconceptions. During this month, we encourage you to take time to learn more about hospice care.

In metro St. Louis, call us at Hope Hospice for questions and concerns about hospice care. Reach us at 314-984-9800.

 

Hospice: The First Steps

Where does a family member begin when the need for hospice care for a loved one becomes more than just a vague, distant possibility?

Begin with research. Go to your computer. Numerous online resources offer information about hospice care.

Talk to friends, neighbors, co-workers and fellow church members. Those who have had family members in hospice may be able to share useful input. Realize that one family’s experiences may vary widely from those of another.

Talk to medical personnel. Your loved one’s doctor, your physicians and others you know in the medical community.

Call us at Hope Hospice. If we cannot answer your specific questions immediately, we’ll get back in touch with the information you need. Our number is 314-984-9800.

Here are some of the basic facts of hospice care in the U.S.:

  • Most hospice care happens at home or in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
  • A person is deemed eligible for hospice care when a doctor determines that he or she has a life expectancy of 6 months or less.
  • The cost of hospice care is fully covered by Medicare. Also, many state Medicaid plans and private health insurance plans cover hospice care.
  • A primary goal of hospice care is pain and symptom control. Hospice works to help a patient maintain a good quality of life for his or her remaining time.
  • Hospice care is a team effort involving doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains and other support personnel. (Hope Hospice has a massage therapist to help with patient comfort.)
  • Hospice does not provide 24/7 nursing or personal care. It is up to family members or other loved ones (or hired caregivers) to serve as primary caregivers.
  • Hospice team members can provide guidance to caregivers who may be unfamiliar with all the necessary elements of home care.
  • A hospice agency may provide equipment such as hospital type beds and adult diapers.

The more you learn about hospice care before you or the doctor makes the call to the hospice agency, the better it is for you, the caregiver and for the patient.

You can call Hope Hospice (based in St. Louis county) with questions at 314-984-9800. You may also visit our website: http://hopehospicestl.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do I Know When It’s Time… To Ask About Hospice?

In some families, it’s easy to talk about sensitive subject matter. In others, one has to be extra careful about what is said to immediate family members.

Who should bring up the subject of hospice and when? Should the doctor or team of physicians be the first to broach the subject? Should the patient be proactive and ask questions? Or, should the patient wait for a spouse/partner, a sibling or an offspring to offer the first mention of hospice?

The answer is—there is no specific answer. If the patient is of sound mind and is in control of his or her healthcare, the patient may want to initiate the family discussion. The patient, however, may encounter resistance from family members who say things like, “Don’t even go there. You’re gonna beat this thing.”

Even if the patient is confident of recovery/remission, there’s no harm in asking about hospice now. None of us is going to live forever. When—at some future date—the information about hospice becomes relevant, the patient (and, presumably, caregivers) will possess the knowledge.

A concerned caregiver may want to make the first inquiry. Learning about hospice and sharing that information with the patient helps demystify the concept. It can also soften the starkness of a doctor’s suggestion somewhere down the road to contact a hospice agency.

Hospice personnel everywhere are acutely aware that while most adults have heard of hospice, many know little about what hospice is and what it does.

At Hope Hospice we answer questions every week from patients, family members and medical personnel about our services. Whether your questions are general or specific, feel free to call our offices anytime at 314-984-9800.

Hope Hospice is based in St. Louis county (Missouri) at Manchester and Barrett Station roads. We serve patients and families in St. Louis city and county and in Jefferson, St. Charles and Franklin counties.