In Hawai‘i, it is common that some kūpuna will remain at home under the care of younger family members, even as their health declines. Aging at home can work well for some ‘ohana, but care becomes more complicated if your loved one is facing a serious or terminal illness and experiencing symptoms that are challenging to manage at home. Managing medications, medical equipment and supplies, and personal needs can be overwhelming, especially on top of the stress, fear and sadness which often comes with a difficult diagnosis, and the anticipatory grief of loss.
Hospice can help alleviate the burden on caregivers and allow everyone to be present and enjoy time with their loved ones while skilled hospice professionals help to ensure the patient’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs are being met. Hospice provides structure and support, and other benefits for patients and their families.
Three benefits of hospice care
■ Care at home. Many people think that hospice is a place, but hospice services extend to wherever the patient calls home — a private residence, assisted living community or nursing home.
■ Regain quality of life. An experienced team of professionals, including a physician, chaplain, nurse, nurse aide and social worker, help support patients and their families with physical comfort, and spiritual and emotional support as they deal with end-of-life challenges. Hospice workers also help patients and families maintain dignity by assisting with day-to-day tasks, personal care and end-of-life planning.
■ Ease financial burden. Hospice care is 100 percent covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans. This means services are generally provided at no cost to the patient or their family. It can lessen the financial burden by helping to avoid unnecessary and costly hospital visits, or outpatient care and services.
Starting the discussion about hospice can be difficult — some think hospice is “giving up.” But, in reality, those who turn to hospice find peace, support, satisfaction, dignity and improved quality of life. Approach the possibility of hospice care with an open mind by looking at the benefits it provides for both the patient and the family.