Shedding the Light on Hospice Care: Debunking Myths

Shedding The Light On Hospice Care: Debunking Myths

As a social worker for over 19 years, I have had many conversations about end of life and the importance of identifying the need for hospice services sooner rather than later. I am a huge advocate of hospice and the wonderful support it provides. I have witnessed the amazing care provided, and the much-needed support given to families, not only during their loved one’s transition, but for months afterward. Although hospice isn’t anywhere near as taboo a topic as it once was, my most recent experience with a loved one tells me there are still so many misconceptions about what hospice is. 

Let’s debunk some myths: 

  1. Hospice is just for the last few days of life. I have heard this more times than I can count. Hospice is designed to provide care to those whose physician has given a prognosis of six months or less to live if the disease follows the expected course. Early identification of eligibility for hospice will allow the patient to receive the comfort and support they deserve for a longer period of time.
  2. Hospice hastens death. Most people on hospice care will pass away while in care, but on occasion some will “graduate” from hospice care. In fact, a lot of hospice patients may live longer than those who choose not to use hospice services due to the extensive time and attention given to them that they may not have received previously.

  3. Hospice is expensive. Hospice is covered under your Medicare benefit, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans. There is no out-of-pocket expense with hospice.

  4. You can no longer take medication. Although those on hospice are foregoing curative treatment, other medical conditions are treated so the patient can continue to be comfortable. A discussion with the hospice organization and physician can determine which treatment regimen is best.

  5. You have to leave your home. Hospice is a philosophy and services can be given in your home, in a senior living organization, or hospice house. 

As you can imagine, choosing hospice for yourself or your loved one is a very important decision. You may not always know when the right time will be, but having early conversations will allow you to be prepared when the time does come.

As always, Advocates For Seniors, LC is here to help with whatever you may need. 

Shedding the Light on Hospice Care: Debunking Myths

It’s a very special month for me, as this time last year I was preparing to bring my sweet girl into the world. In one week, we will be celebrating my sweet Laila’s first birthday. It sounds cliché, but “Where has the time gone?”

Navigating Life as a Working Mom

Navigating life as a working Mom, along with caring for aging parents over the last year has been a challenge. I am in, what is considered The “Sandwich Generation,” a middle-aged adult sandwiched in between caring for their aging parents and their own children. According to The Pew Research Center, 1 in 10 parents are caring for an adult in addition to their children. They spend about three hours per day on caregiving duties, split between their children and their parents. 

Juggling Work and Caregiving

Just yesterday, I made multiple phone calls to arrange durable medical equipment to be delivered to my parents’ home, attended one of their telehealth appointments, all the while juggling work and managing a very busy toddler.  Thankfully, I have siblings who carry their share of responsibility, as well as a very understanding and flexible employer. Whether you are on this journey alone, or sharing responsibilities with other family members, here are some things I have found helpful when managing these demanding caregiver roles:

  1. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule: I couldn’t manage being without my Google Calendar! My appointments are color-coordinated for work, personal, and family. I also am able to privately share the family appointments with my siblings, along with assigning who is responsible for which tasks need to be done.

  2. Enlist non-family caregivers: We have to admit when we can’t do it all, so enlisting outside agencies for support is sometimes necessary. Convincing my parents of the idea of a “stranger” coming into the home was no easy task, but thankfully they recognize the need now and are open to some assistance. This provides some much needed respite for my siblings and I.

  3. Self-Care for the Caregiver: Caregiver burnout is common and happens often with those caring for their loved ones. Signs of burnout include emotional and physical exhaustion, withdrawal from things of interest, changes in appetite and weight, difficulty concentrating, and lack of energy. Be sure you are doing the things you need to care for yourself-rest, proper nutrition, exercise, etc.

  4. Be Prepared Financially: Dual caregiving can be expensive. While some insurances assist with expenses, a lot can be out-of-pocket. Check with your local Area Agency on Aging to find out what benefits are available. Assistance with utilities, meals, etc. may be available. 

Now that you have read my list, what tips can you offer to help navigate this caregiving journey? Comment below.

As always, Advocates For Seniors, LC is here to help with whatever you may need. 

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