Hospice care has immeasurable benefits for terminally ill patients and their family members. Unfortunately, one recent article from Dayton Daily News indicated that hospice services are often underused not just throughout the Ohio area but also nationwide. Hospice care can be a better alternative to traditional end-of-life care for people with terminal illnesses, but many people do not end up using hospice at all or do not seek hospice care for as long as this type of care could benefit them.
Zimmer Law Firm knows that making medical decisions at the end of life or when a terminal illness is diagnosed can be very difficult. This is especially true when a person with a terminal illness is not able to communicate his or her own wishes and when family members are not certain what the patient would have preferred for end-of-life care.
Because anyone could be diagnosed with a terminal illness, everyone should have a plan in place that is communicated with their family members and with medical care providers about what types of life-saving and life-extending care should be provided. An experienced Cincinnati elder law attorney can provide assistance with the creation of a healthcare power of attorney and can provide help with the creation of a living will so you can take control over what types of medical care you want to receive. A HIPAA Release should also be included to allow the appropriate persons with access to your confidential health information at critical times. Creating a plan in advance for end-of-life care allows you to die with dignity, avoid life-extending medical care you don’t want, and take advantage of options for an easier passing.
Hospice Care Benefits for Seniors
Dayton News reports on many of the benefits that are associated with hospice care for people who have terminal medical conditions. According to the News, the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management has indicated people who have terminal illnesses can sometimes extend their lives by choosing hospice care rather than opting for more aggressive medical treatments. Hospice care has been life-extending because the care focuses on providing comfort and managing pain, rather than trying to treat a terminal condition with aggressive medical treatment.
A hospice care team typically involves a nurse, a home health aid, a physician, a chaplain, a social worker, as well as volunteers. Many hospices will provide additional services to patients and their families which are personalized to the needs of the patient. This could include massage therapy, musical therapy, and other services that can help hospice patients to manage pain and improve their quality of life.
Hospice care can be provided in a nursing home, a hospital, or a specialized hospice facility because all of these facilities are equipped to provide acute care services including symptom management and administration of pain medication. Increasingly, efforts are also being made to provide hospice care within the home of a patient. Providing hospice care in the home of a patient or a family member means that loved ones can be more involved with the care of the patient at the end of the patient’s life while still receiving necessary support from a team of medical professionals.
Despite the benefits that are associated with hospice, studies have demonstrated that many patients use hospice service for a very limited period of time or not at all. One study from the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that 25 percent of all patients who used hospice services used the services for three or fewer days. A total of 40 percent of the patients who were referred to hospice only for a brief period of time took advantage of the hospice services only after they had undergone an intensive-care stay in a hospital.
Medicare Part A covers hospice services for those with a terminal illness when the patient has a life expectancy of six months or less, so there are generally no financial limitations on the use of hospice care. Today’s hospice care is not just for patients at the end stage of terminal illness.
Getting Help from an Elder Law Attorney
As part of a comprehensive estate plan, you should ensure that you provide instructions for the type of care that you want to receive at the end of your life. In the event of a terminal illness or a serious injury, both a durable power of attorney and a living will directive can ensure that life-extending measures are not used when you do not want them to be. A HIPAA Release is essential. Discussing these documents and your wishes with family and making these documents available 24/7/365 area just as important as making the documents in the first place.
Zimmer Law Firm can assist you in creating a comprehensive plan so your loved one knows your wishes and so you have control over the care you will receive if you become very sick. We also have an inexpensive and effective solution that makes these critical legal documents available immediately when needed. Give us a call at 513.721.1513 or browse our special reports to learn more about how we can help.