Many people think of hospice as the end of life. When I tell people my mom is on hospice they immediately think she must be in bed almost ready to pass. While that is something that hospice can assist with it is just the beginning of what they can offer someone with a terminal illness.
There are many different groups trying to change the name "hospice" to something different to help break away from the stereotype of what it means to most people. My mom is on hospice and I have learned so much about it throughout the process. Yes, my mom has a prognosis of less than six months which is the typical rule of thumb for someone to be eligible to receive hospice services. This does not mean my mom will die in six months or even a year as none of us really know when our time will come. With this prognosis comes the ability to get a lot of comfort services from hospice that are all covered by Medicare. My mom is still up and about in her wheelchair most days and while she has numerous symptoms of her illness she is still living.
Hospice services vary depending on the company you choose. We had one company when this began but were forced to change as the care was not what we had been told it would be. We then met with several other companies and the one we finally chose offers a social worker and a chaplin who can come visit if my mom would like. She has a nurse that comes twice a week to check on her. She also has the option of a caregiver who can come shower her a few days a week if need be. One of the most wonderful services my mom has received is massage therapy. Every other week a wonderful women comes o
ver and gives her a massage. She says it is the most wonderful gift and it gives her such a calm feeling. The idea of hospice is providing people with a variety of things that help make them feel good day by day and bring them comfort as their illness progresses. There are companies that offer pet therapy as well as a variety of other services. Hospice benefits are covered under Medicare. In addition to the above services hospice can also provide hospital beds, wheelchairs, bathroom supplies and much more. The wheelchair was something that was such a benefit for my mom. The chair she had was too big and she really needed something smaller. Medicare would not pay for a new chair as you can only buy one every 5 years. However when you are on hospice a wheelchair is part of their services so the rental of one is covered. This has helped her be able to move around much better and be more comfortable when she is in it.
My mom actually feels better on hospice because she is receiving so much extra care and attention which is making things a little easier for her. Many people live longer than they would have due to the services provided through hospice. So if you have a loved one with a terminal illness I advise you to look into hospice early to see what benefits are available to you and get familiar with your options before you are really close to end of life. There are many hospice companies out there so make sure you interview with a several to really make sure you are getting the right one for your loved one. Starting this process early is going to make it much easier when things get really difficult because we have our system in place and we are comfortable with all of our caregivers.