At the holidays, our thoughts sometimes turn to loved ones who are getting older. Is it time to consider seeking help with their changing needs? Family caregivers often have to make decisions about how to care for an elderly, or disabled loved one.
Choosing the proper care for your loved one is a crucial decision. Your doctor may help or recommend a plan of action, but you as a caregiver, should empower yourself to know your options so you can make the best choice for your loved one.
Most people want to stay at home if possible and home health and hospice care are options that enable those choices. Home care and hospice may seem synonymous, but there are some important distinctions to understand.
What is home health care?
Home health care is a broad term that can describe a wide range of services administered in the home for recovery from illness or injury, or to help with daily tasks. Unlike hospice care, the goal of home health is to recuperate and either keep or regain independence.
For someone recovering from surgery or a serious illness or injury, home health care is often a less expensive treatment option than a long-term hospital stay. For those dealing with chronic conditions, home care is more affordable than a nursing facility while enabling people to stay in their home.
Home health care may include any of the following services.
- Home health aide – assistance with dressing, grooming, shopping, meals, errands
- Prevention from falls, companionship, light housekeeping
- Nursing services – monitoring vital signs, education, injections, wound care
- Recovery from surgery – knee or hip replacement, heart surgery
- Physical, occupational and speech therapy
- Managing chronic conditions like Parkinson’s, diabetes, or COPD
- Managing treatment and medication regimen
- CHP also offers adult day services for personal care, supervision, activities, socialization, and caregiver relief
What is hospice?
Hospice focuses on maintaining or improving quality of life for someone with an incurable illness, disease or condition. Hospice can include a variety of services tailored to address physical symptoms plus the emotional and spiritual issues associated with terminal illness. Patients can receive hospice at a private residence, long-term care facility, nursing home, or at an inpatient hospice center.
Hospice also assists caregivers both during treatment and after death. These services include managing the patient’s care, assisting with daily needs of the patient and offering grief or loss counseling for family members.
Hospice care services may include any of the following.
- Team of nurses, physician, medical social worker, home health aide, chaplain
- Administration of medication for alleviating symptoms or pain
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Speech-language pathology services
- Dietary counseling
- Short-term respite care to relieve caregiver
- Grief and loss counseling for loved ones
- CHP offers inpatient hospice care at centers in Defiance and Van Wert. Short-term respite care is also available to give relief for caregivers.
How to Choose the Appropriate Care
It can be confusing to decide which service is best for your loved one. Here are some basic questions and answers to help make the most informed decision:
- What is your loved one’s prognosis? For patients with a terminal diagnosis or limited life expectancy, hospice is typically the proper route. Home health is the right choice for chronic, non-terminal illness or if a patient will recover following treatment.
- Is your loved one homebound? To receive skilled nursing services at home, Medicare requires the patient to be homebound. Medicare considers you homebound if you meet both of the following criteria.1. You need the help of another person or medical equipment such as crutches, a walker or a wheelchair to leave your home. Or your doctor believes that your health or illness could get worse if you leave your home. 2. It is difficult for you to leave your home and you typically cannot do so. Homebound status is NOT required to receive non-medical, home care or hospice.
- Does your loved one need 24/7 care? Inpatient hospice care can give round-the-clock care for patients who need acute symptom management 24/7. Home health and in-home hospice does not offer 24-hour care, but a nurse is on-call at all times if needed.
- Will your loved one receive treatment at home or in a facility? It’s important to decide if your loved one can practically receive care at home or needs to go to a facility. Adult day services is a flexible alternative where patients receive care on weekday morning and afternoon hours at a center, but return home for evenings and weekends. Patients can receive hospice at a personal residence, long-term care facility, nursing home, or inpatient hospice center.
For specific questions about your situation, please call any CHP office. We will be happy to answer questions, offer insight, or provide a no cost, no obligation consultation.