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Is The Time Right For Hospice Care?

5 things to consider for the comfort of a loved one with a life-limiting illness.

When is the right time to seek hospice care? There’s no easy answer to such a personal and emotional question. The important thing to remember is that hospice care, whether for a loved one or for yourself, is not about giving up, it’s about being comfortable and continuing to live a meaningful life for the time that remains.

Insurers, Medicare and Medicaid generally provide coverage for hospice care if a physician determines that the patient likely has less than six months to live. Unfortunately, people often don’t take advantage of hospice care until the final weeks or even days of life, possibly missing out on months of quality time.

According to the Crozer-Keystone Hospice team, which has been providing compassionate care to residents of Delaware County and beyond for more than 25 years, many patients and their loved ones say they wish they had discussed “the H word” much sooner, but were afraid or in denial.

One thing Crozer-Keystone emphasizes: Hospice care is not for a person who is benefiting from treatments intended to cure the illness. With that in mind, the Crozer-Keystone Hospice team has helped formulate a checklist of five important questions to determine if the time is right for hospice care.

1. Has the patient been medically declared “terminal”? As soon as a terminal illness or serious medical situation is diagnosed, it’s important to meet with a hospice professional in order to discuss what to expect in the near future.

2. Is the patient halting any further medical treatment? There may come a time when a patient is no longer responding to treatment as expected, or efforts to cure or slow an illness seem harmful rather than helpful. Sometimes the burdens of treatment outweigh the benefits.

3. Does the patient need increasingly more assistance with day-to-day functions? If the ability to live a meaningful life is increasingly impacted by the illness, the Crozer-Keystone Hospice team can provide home health aides to assist with personal care while preserving a patient’s dignity and peace.

4. Is the move necessary for the physical comfort of the patient? Hospice care needs to be considered before pain management becomes an issue. Hospice staff has the know-how, supplies and equipment needed to minimize pain. In addition, a hospice nurse is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions, discuss concerns and visit when needed.

5. Would the patient benefit from additional emotional and spiritual support? Hospice care is designed to relieve both physical and psychological symptoms. With the Crozer-Keystone Hospice team, an interdisciplinary approach is used to meet the patient’s and family’s needs through visits by registered nurses, social workers, clergy and volunteers. Available services range from counseling and therapy to family teaching on what to expect from the illness.

Patients are usually referred for hospice services by their physician, who can help start the process of getting the patient into a hospice program either at home or on an inpatient unit.

Crozer-Keystone offers a full-range of hospice services, including home-based care as well as the Crozer-Keystone Hospice Residence, located at Taylor Hospital – a 10-bed inpatient unit designed to provide comfort to the patient and respite to their caregivers. In addition, those who have recently lost a friend or family member could benefit from Crozer-Keystone’s Bereavement Support Group, which meets every Monday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Taylor Hospital.

For more information on home care and hospice, call 610-284-0700 or visit www.crozerkeystone.org, select Services, then Hospice.

The Crozer-Keystone Hospice Residence

Taylor Hospital
175 E. Chester Pike
Ridley Park, PA 19078

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