The term “hospice” has been trending on Google and social media since it was recently announced that former president Jimmy Carter would be transitioning into it.

If you’re not familiar with this common end-of-life care option, here’s what to know about hospice, who is eligible, how it’s beneficial, and more.

What Is Hospice?

Hospice care is a type of health care reserved for those who are nearing the end of life. The services are typically provided by a team of nurses, therapists, and aides, under the direction of the patient’s physician. The goal of hospice is to maximize comfort for the patient by addressing pain and physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs. Hospice also involves counseling from trained social workers and/or chaplains, respite care, and practical support for family and loved ones.

The focus of hospice isn’t to cure the underlying disease, but rather to give patients the highest quality of life possible for whatever time remains. Hospice care can be provided at home, in nursing homes, in assisted living facilities, and in dedicated hospice facilities like CHP’s Defiance Area Inpatient Hospice Center.

Who Qualifies for Hospice?

Hospice care is appropriate for people who have a terminal illness and have a timeline of six months or less to live IF the disease runs its normal course. But, hospice can be provided for as long as the person’s doctor and hospice team certify that the condition remains life-limiting.

Is Hospice Covered By Insurance?

Medicare, Medicaid, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and private insurance typically pay for hospice. As a nonprofit provider, CHP Home Care & Hospice offers services based on need rather than the ability to pay. Hospice providers can vary in terms of the service they offer – not all hospices are the same. The National Association for Home Care and Hospice Care provides a list of questions to ask potential hospice-care providers when trying to decide which option is right for your loved one.

Why Is Hospice Beneficial?

The choice to begin hospice is made thoughtfully by the patient and their family members. The biggest benefit of hospice is the support services available to both the patient and family caregivers. It enables family members to spend time with their loved ones without the weight of being their caregiver. Hospice also helps to prepare family members for death, giving them the space to say goodbye and delivering follow-up bereavement support for up to a year after.

When to begin Hospice?

It’s important to note, however, that to experience all the support services offered through hospice, a patient must be referred sooner than later. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, 53.8% of Medicare beneficiaries received hospice care for 30 days or less in 2018, and a quarter received hospice services for seven days or less. (“How Long are People Usually in Hospice?”)

Generally, the longer someone waits to begin hospice, the less time they usually have to live. Understandably, some patients want to try a treatment approach until they have exhausted their options. It is hard to accept death as a normal and inevitable consequence of one’s condition.

Local Help is Available

Nurses from CHP Home Care & Hospice are available to answer questions and offer a free, no-obligation, in-home assessment of your loved one’s condition. To learn more, call your local office. We understand it’s a tough decision, and we want to help.