If you or a loved one is seriously ill, you likely have many questions. Making a decision about hospice care is never easy, but finding answers can help you feel more comfortable with the options available and confident in your final decision. Below are frequently asked questions about hospice care; click each question for its answer.
What is hospice care?
Hospice is end-of-life care that provides comfort and support for those with life limiting illnesses and their families by attending to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Each family benefits from a team of professionals, including doctors, nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, chaplains, volunteers and grief specialists. Care is coordinated between the patient, team members, facility staff and family members to best meet your needs.
How do I know if I am ready, or my loved one is ready, for hospice? When is the right time for hospice care?
Hospice is a concept of care that focuses on quality of life for those with a life expectancy of six months or less if an illness runs its normal course. Many people are surprised to learn hospice is available for weeks and months of care, not just for the last days of life. Hospice is not intended for just the last 48 hours of life; rather, hospice care is meant to accompany and support you and your caregivers through this chapter of life.
There is not always a specific point during an illness when a person should ask about hospice care. However, many professionals recommend thinking about hospice long before you’re faced with a medical crisis. Considering hospice as an option early on can help ease the decision-making process later on.
Each person and diagnosis is different, but there are general signs that may indicate an individual may meet the medical guidelines for hospice care:
- Unintentional and progressive weight loss
- A decline in the ability to perform routine daily activities, such as eating, bathing or dressing
- Frequent infections or non-healing wounds
- Frequent hospitalizations or emergency department visits
- Increased weakness and/or fatigue
- A progressive decline, even with the use of curative medical therapies
If you see these signs in yourself or your loved one, it may be time to contact Hospice of the Red River Valley for more information. There are many benefits to hospice care. Knowing about all the health care options available can help you have more control of your health care throughout your lifetime.
Where is hospice care provided?
We are privileged to care for people in their own homes, nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities, shelters and many other places they consider “home.” Your Hospice team comes to you no matter where you are.
Can I pick my hospice provider?
Yes. Every hospice is different. Ask for Hospice of the Red River Valley by name.
Who can receive hospice care?
Care is for anyone who has a life expectancy of six months or less based on a physician’s best judgment. This includes Alzheimer’s, heart and liver diseases, cancer, COPD, ALS, Parkinson’s and other conditions.
Can hospice care continue after six months?
Yes. Some people live longer than their original prognoses once their pain and symptoms are under control. We continue to provide care as long as you meet the conditions for hospice services.
If I have pain, how can you help?
Our nurses specialize in pain control and symptom management and will promptly address your comfort needs. Certified nursing assistants help with bathing, grooming and other personal cares and help people feel like themselves.
How does hospice care improve quality of life for me and my family?
Your Hospice team comes to you, providing everything you need to be comfortable, which may include a hospital bed and other equipment. This allows you to focus on valuable time with your loved ones. Hospice care may also improve quality of life by:
- Reducing the time spent in the clinic and the emergency room
- Decreasing your out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Having a Hospice nurse available any time, day or night, by calling (800) 237-4629
How is hospice care paid for?
Our care and services are available to anyone who needs them, regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay. Hospice services, including medical equipment and medications for your terminal diagnosis and related conditions, are covered under the Medicare and Medicaid Hospice Benefits. Most private insurance plans also offer a hospice benefit.
What if no one has mentioned hospice care to me?
If you’re living with a life-limiting illness, Hospice of the Red River Valley can help. When you’re ready to learn more, contact us. We’ll visit with you at a time convenient for you, at no cost. If hospice care is right for you, we will do the follow-up work, including contacting your doctor, starting the necessary
paperwork and arranging a visit with a hospice nurse.
Will I still be able to make my own decisions regarding my care?
Yes, you and your family are in charge of your care.
What if I live alone?
Many people, especially if they are receiving hospice care early in their illnesses, are able to continue to live independently. However, as your illness progresses, you may want more assistance. We will help you identify a plan to get the help you need.
How can I learn more about hospice care?
If you’re living with a life-limiting illness, Hospice of the Red River Valley can help. Contact us and we’ll visit with you at a time convenient for you, free of charge. If hospice care is right for you, we will do the follow-up work, including contacting your doctor, starting the necessary paperwork and arranging a visit with a hospice nurse.
If you have additional questions or would like more information, please contact us.