Caretakers helping an elderly relative diagnosed with a terminal illness have many difficult choices to face. A private care attendant may provide physical and emotional assistance during this trying time, but additional help is often necessary, especially for busy families and those who don't live near the patient.
What is hospice?
Hospice services are often a sensible choice to deal with the medical, emotional and supervising needs of a terminally ill senior relative. Working with a doctor and a team of hospice workers, from nurses to psychiatric professionals, the right level of care can be arranged for the patient's end-of-life comfort and support.
The hospice team may also consist of non-heathcare workers, such as volunteers, social workers and personal care services. One of the primary benefits of this type of care is the ability to connect with medical professionals - under hospice care, the patient or her caretaker can contact the assigned doctor or nurse at any time for guidance and urgent care needs.
"There's a great need for care, and end-of-life issues right now are a real concern," Sandra Livesay, volunteer coordinator at Baptist Trinity Hospice, told the Memphis Daily News. "It takes a village to help care for someone at this stage in their life."
Who is eligible?
In order to qualify for Medicare coverage for hospice care, seniors must meet basic enrollment qualifications. Both Part A and Part B can be elected beginning at age 65, and the application process can start three months prior to reaching the eligibility age. Three months following the month of a 65th birthday, the standard enrollment period ends. If this application window is missed, an open enrollment period exists from January 1 through March 31 every year.
Patients that are eligible for Medicare Part A may qualify for funded hospice care if diagnosed with a terminal illness and facing six or less months until end-of-life. A consultation with a medical professional is beneficial when considering this coverage and to help plan a course of action, and qualified patients can receive this helpful guidance through Medicare.
Medicare coverage of hospice services includes medical attendance, including doctor and nurse care, as well as certain medical supplies, such as pain- and symptom-related pharmaceuticals. Families can also request grief counseling and the help of a social worker for especially challenging situations.