Ten important facts you may not know about hospice care

Many people think hospice care is just about dying, but it is much more than that. Hospice brings comfort and support to people facing a life-limiting illness and also reaches out to provide support for the family and friends who love and care for them.

Hospice care honors life’s final journey, leaving a legacy of compassion and caring. It brings comfort, dignity and peace to help people live every moment of life to the fullest, leaving loved ones with memories they can treasure.

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the nation’s hospice providers served 1.4 million dying Americans last year. Yet there are many facts about hospice that people are not aware of and may keep people from getting this compassionate care when they need it most.

1. Hospice is not a place, but it is a kind of high-quality care that brings the patient and family medical, emotional and spiritual care and support focusing on comfort and quality of life.

2. Medicare beneficiaries pay little or nothing for hospice, and most insurance plans, HMOs and managed care plans, include hospice coverage.

3. Hospice serves anyone facing a life-limiting illness, regardless of age or illness.

4. Research has shown that the majority of Americans do not want to die in a hospital. Hospice treats pain and manages symptoms while allowing most patients to be at home.

5. Hospice also serves people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

6. Hospice patients and families can receive care for six months or longer, and the greatest benefits are gained by being in hospice care for more than just a few days.

7. Less than 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries live in an area where hospice is not available.

8. A person may keep his or her referring physician involved while he or she receive hospice care.

9. Hospice serves people of all backgrounds and traditions. The core values of hospice-allowing the patient to be with family, including spiritual and emotional support and treating pain-cut across all cultures.

10. Hospice offers grief and bereavement services to family members and the community.

Since 1981, Blount Memorial Hospital has been providing physical care and emotional and spiritual support to those who are nearing the end of life. Our philosophy is: Even when a cure is no longer possible, there is still much that can be given to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. By partnering with Blount Memorial Palliative Care, patients can remain at home - the place most people say they would choose to be cared for at the time of death.

At Blount Memorial, hospice care is available for anyone who is terminally ill. Since a physician referral is required, however, it’s important for individuals to discuss the hospice option with their families and physicians before a life-threatening illness occurs.

If there is more you would like to know about hospice care, visit www.blountmemorial.org or call Blount Memorial Palliative Care at 865-977-5702. The best time to learn about hospice is before someone in your family is facing a health care crisis.

Michelle Evans is the outreach coordinator for Blount Memorial Palliative Care.

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