It is a topic that no one wants to discuss, let alone deal with, often until it’s too late. Terminal illness is a medical term popularized in the 20th century to describe an active and malignant disease that cannot be cured or adequately treated and that is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient.
It is a term more commonly used for progressive diseases such as cancer or advanced heart disease. Often, a patient is considered to be terminally ill when the life expectancy is estimated to be six months or less.
Hospice care is for people of any age who have terminal illnesses when a curative treatment is no longer possible or being sought. Hospice care is designed to meet all of the patient’s needs “physical, emotional, social, and spiritual” as well as the needs of the family.
Hospice programs strive to help patients maintain their dignity and self-respect; live their final days pain free; have the involvement and support of loved ones; and access the highest quality of care.
In general, members of the hospice team include; a hospice coordinator or director; physicians, nurses, a counselor, a spiritual leader; a social worker; a dietician; a pharmacist; therapists; home health aides; and volunteers.
Patients receive care in a setting that best suits their needs. Home is the usual care setting. A family member or friend assumes the role of the primary caregiver. He or she receives support from hospice personnel. If the patient is in need of medical attention that can’t be given at home, an inpatient facility is available in most areas, such as an independent facility or based out of a hospital or nursing home.
Usually it comes from Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. Some patients do not qualify for this help and they are charged for this service. However, patients are normally accepted based on health needs, not their ability to pay. Sometimes a Hospice agency will raise funds from local government, foundation grants, or individual contributions, such as a fund-raiser or memorial gifts. If a patient qualifies for Hospice through Medicare, a portion of some of the medications will be covered.
There are several agencies in Southern Illinois that provide Hospice services. You should consult with your physician, discharge planner at a hospital, county health department official, spiritual advisor, or look in the Yellow Pages under “Hospices.”
You can also contact my office by using the link at the bottom.
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