Planning matters

Let’s Talk About Hospice

Difficult conversations are easy to put off, especially when it is about healthcare of a loved one. But if you’re dealing with an ailing loved one, a conversation to have sooner rather than later is about hospice and the important role it plays during the end-of-life period. 

Hospice is a type of end-of-life care where the focus shifts from medical interventions aimed at a cure to treating the person with a terminal illness, rather than the disease. Comfort and support for patients and their families are the main goals. Hospice care concentrates on managing a patient’s pain and other symptoms so that the patient may live as comfortable as possible and make the most of the time that remains. It helps the loved one and their family focus on living.

Hospice care is a service – not a place – so it may be provided at home, in a hospital, a nursing home, or in a facility designated for such service. Clark County has several wonderful hospice facilities.

A team consisting of doctors, nurses, social workers, clerics, volunteers and therapists participate in the care of hospice patients. Covered by Medicare since 1982, Medicaid and most private insurance carriers also provide hospice benefits.

A common misconception with hospice is that people use the service when they are ‘giving up’ on life. Although a loved one’s condition may have reached a point that a cure is not likely—or not likely enough to be worth the side effects of treatment—that does not mean there is nothing left to do. With hospice, an emphasis on quality of life and easing pain and distress often allows a patient to spend his or her last month’s focusing on things that are most important and meaningful to them and their family.

There is no magic time to start hospice care, although many families report wishing they would have used the services earlier for their loved ones because of the amount of support and peace it brought to everyone.

So, who suggests it is the right time for hospice? Many people wait for a doctor to suggest hospice, but oddly enough, many doctors wait for families to bring it up. Don’t be shy in broaching the subject with the designated healthcare provider. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and start the referral process.

While the discussion may be difficult, talking about hospice and the beneficial role it can play is a good one to have sooner rather than later. Emotions during the grieving process run high after receiving a terminal illness diagnosis. In addition to your medical team, your financial planner can help you identify helpful resources to navigate this tumultuous time.

Written By Rachel Gorretta