Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Understanding Hospice Care


Submitted by Richard R. Roller of Pearson Bollman Law

Hospice care can be very difficult for families to come to terms with, but can be a beneficial care option for the terminally ill. The purpose of hospice care is to provide comfort and quality of life for a terminally ill person. Hospice care can allow the patient to remain at home and can provide ways to alleviate pain and make the person more comfortable. It is a great option for those who are seriously ill, who have exhausted their treatment possibilities, or who do not wish to have heroic measures taken.

In order to be placed under hospice care, normally a patient must receive a prognosis from two doctors that the patient has six months or less to live. Since there is no way to be sure how long a patient will live, the patient must continue to qualify every 60 to 90 days.
A hospice team will work with other healthcare professionals, including the patient’s current doctors, to coordinate and provide treatment and care. Support for families and caregivers is another benefit of hospice care. The team can help train caregivers to provide care and comfort. Special medical equipment and medications related to the illness may be provided for those in hospice care.

The hospice team comes to the patient wherever they may live. Hospice provides different levels of care, including home care, but can also extend to inpatient care in a hospital’s hospice unit. Some communities have separate facilities providing exclusively hospice care.
Respite care is a benefit of hospice care for the family and caregiver. Caregivers are provided an outlet through the hospice program so that caregivers can go on vacation, rest, or take care of other matters. Hospice care addresses not only the physical needs of the patient, but also the spiritual, emotional, and mental wellbeing of the patient receiving hospice care. Hospice care offers bereavement follow-up and support for families as well.

Terminally ill patients do not normally have to pay for hospice care. Most hospice patients have their care paid for through Medicare and the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Veterans are eligible for hospice benefits provided through the Veteran’s Health Administration, which are similar to the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Health insurance may cover some hospice benefits. This can vary among insurers, so it is important to check qualifications and coverage. If the patient has no other way to pay for hospice care, it may be provided on a sliding scale or free of charge.

Pearson Bollman Law helps families plan for long term care.  If you have any questions or would like to register for one of our workshops on “Asset Protection for Iowa Seniors,” please feel free to contact Richard Roller at (563) 355-8345.