November is National Hospice & Palliative Care Month: 6 Useful Facts to Know

Every November, we celebrate National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. As we reflect on the National recognition, we continue to draw attention and awareness to hospice and palliative care. With winter upon us, we felt it was a good time to discuss a few important facts about end-of-life care.

Here are six useful facts about hospice and palliative care and how they can improve the last stages of life for patients and loved ones.

1. Hospice care and palliative care are not the same.

Even though hospice and palliative care often go hand in hand, they provide different services. Palliative care is a resource for anyone living with a chronic condition, such as heart failure, cancer or dementia. This type of care can be provided at any stage of the illness and alongside curative treatment. The goal is to improve the quality of life and help the patient understand their options for treatment.

Hospice is a philosophy of care provided to patients who are expected to live a short time, usually six months or less. The purpose is to keep the patient comfortable in their final days, and treatment is not continued.

2. Medicare covers hospice and might cover palliative care.

Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans cover hospice. The hospice benefit covers six months of end-of-life care, though patients may end up being on hospice for a shorter time span. Palliative care, on the other hand, may not be covered by Medicare. It depends on your benefits and treatment plan.

3. Hospice and palliative care can help people live longer.

With palliative care, it might seem more understandable that people may live longer because they can receive curative treatment as well. What’s more interesting is that hospice care can help people live longer. According to the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, hospice extended life by an average of 29 days.

4. Hospice and palliative care are not just for people with cancer.

We often think of cancer patients as the ones in need of hospice and palliative care, but anyone with a chronic condition can benefit from this personalized attention. The goal is to keep the person comfortable, which is beneficial to those suffering with dementia, Alzheimer’s, stroke, neurological disorders and end-stage heart, lung or kidney disease.

5. Hospice is for the entire family.

Hospice is not only for the patient but for the entire family. These Hospice services help families understand and prepare for the final stages of an illness. Family members also appreciate having a hospice nurse available 24 hours a day in case there is a medical emergency. Once the patient passes, hospice staff can recommend community resources to help with the grieving process.

6. Most hospice care is offered in the home.

When treatment is stopped, many patients can return back to their daily activities in the comfort of their own home. This way, they can be surrounded by the people and things that they love. All equipment and medical supplies brought into the home are covered by the Medicare hospice benefit. Families also appreciate that respite care is built into these services so that they can take short breaks when needed.

Hospice and palliative care are nothing to be afraid of. Life has a beginning and an end, and hospice is available to help patients and families through these final stages of life. Contact us today to stay connected with the VNA Health Group.

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