What is Hospice?

What is Hospice?

When a loved one is aging, and you begin to consider seeking greater care for them, the options can seem endless. Hospice may be one of the choices you face, but what is hospice? What does its care entail? When is it the best decision for you and your loved one?

Hospice can be described as a philosophy of care. Rather than sole focus on physical health, hospice addresses quality of life. Both emotional and spiritual health become a primary area of care in hospice. It is a patient-oriented care, surrounding both a patient and their family with a team of attentive professionals. Hospice care aims to keep the patient as comfortable as possible for as long as possible.

Hospice is primarily for those with a limited life expectancy, usually one projected around 6 months or less. Patients who require hospice care usually have a very serious medical condition, one that can make day to day life fairly uncomfortable. Though many assume hospice care is for those suffering from cancer, a hospice patient can be suffering from heart disease, dementia, lung disease, and more.

Often patients and their family believe they should wait for a doctor’s recommendation for hospice. However, a physician may be waiting for the patient or their loved ones to start the conversation. This can often lead to a very late start to hospice care. Don’t feel as though you have to wait for your loved one or their doctor to suggest hospice care. If you feel your loved one could benefit from visits from qualified and caring professionals who specialize in easing pain and seeking greater mental/emotional/spiritual health, hospice may be the right choice for you.

Another common misconception surrounding hospice care is the idea of “giving up.” Many believe that resorting to hospice care is accepting that your loved one may pass soon. There is full hope in hospice care. If your loved one shows signs of recovery, you choose an experimental route for their care, or wish to resume treatment, hospice care is not set in stone and you may stop the treatment as desired. However, your loved one will not only be receiving the best care for their condition, but also the emotional and spiritual support the patient could be lacking.  Hospice care provides an easing of pain and feeling of comfort that allows the patient to focus on things other than their condition. When your loved one is no longer plagued with intense pain, they can take the time to enjoy family, friends, and more. Hospice is far from giving up, but rather giving you and your loved one the hope for a well lived life. This care can be given in a number of places, including: the home, assisted living facilities, long-term care facilities, rest homes, hospitals, and more.

Much like all other forms of care, hospice care does not come free. Patients and their loved ones have several options when it comes to paying for care. Coverage for hospice is widely available. According to Moments of Life, hospice is covered by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in almost all states, and by most private health insurance policies. Private savings or pooled family money can also be used for payment for hospice care.

Hospice care is a plan for your loved one that is full of compassion, comfort, and quality care. Though misconceptions and confusion about hospice may deter you, it is essential to do your research, clearly and effectively communicate with both your loved and their physician, and understand that hospice is not the end, but the beginning of holistic care and comfort for your loved one.

If you have questions on Hospice, ask your doctor.  You can also reach out to Renaissance Senior Care, we can help.

Renaissance Team

The ABCs of Medicare: Know Your Options and How to Fill the Gaps

The ABCs of Medicare: Know Your Options and How to Fill the Gaps

Medicare is the primary source of comprehensive healthcare insurance for seniors 65 and over. For most of America’s senior population, Medicare is a blessing they’re eligible for when they turn 65. However, you still have to begin with a good basic understanding of how the parts work together and a knowledge of where the coverage gaps are. If you make the wrong choice, you could end up having to spend a lot of your own money.

Enrollment Periods

The full initial enrollment period for Medicare includes the three months prior to, the month of, and the three months after your 65th birthday. You’ll need to sign up during the first three months if you want coverage to begin the month you turn 65. You’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare if you’re receiving Social Security; otherwise, you’ll need to enroll on your own through Social Security or the Medicare.gov website.

Medicare: What’s What?

Medicare is composed of four parts, Parts A, B, C, and D. The majority of enrollees begin with Part A, which covers hospital inpatient care and some kinds of home health care with no premiums, while Part B covers doctor services, hospital outpatient care, preventive care, and some types of home health care. With Part B there is a monthly premium that’s based on your income (higher-income enrollees pay more). And you can sign up for Part B at age 65 if you’re retired or will retire at 65; if you’re still working, you’ll need to study your options to determine the proper time to enroll given your situation. You can also sign up for Part D, which covers prescription medications, when you sign up for Plan B. If you delay and sign up late, you could end up incurring a permanent penalty that could cost you plenty.  

Medicare Part C, also called Medicare Advantage and sold through companies like Aetna, offers plans that generally come with co-pays and deductibles. However, there’s a yearly out-of-pocket limit, so when your deductibles and co-pays are paid up, the plan pays 100 percent of your medical bills for the remainder of the year. These plans function like managed care plans, with care provided by doctors and hospitals within the plan’s network. Many Advantage plans come with dental, hearing, and vision coverage, which aren’t covered under Original Medicare.

Medigap

There are out-of-pocket costs associated with original Medicare, and there’s no limit on what you could spend, which means your end of the deal could add up quickly, particularly if you require therapy or medical treatments. Medigap plans cover most of Medicare’s out-of-pocket expenses. If you’re covered under Original Medicare, choosing a Medigap plan is a way of filling one of those gaps, which can become a financial burden for older adults. Once Medicare has paid your claim, it’ll be forwarded directly to your Medigap plan, which then pays its portion of the bill.

Medigap won’t cover prescription drugs, so you’ll need to purchase a separate plan for drug coverage. If you’re enrolled in an Advantage plan, you’ll receive an annual notice of change, with important information about any changes to your plan in the coming year (plans are sometimes terminated, so read these carefully).

Go to Medicare.gov to find Advantage plans in your area.

Filling the Gaps

Medicare doesn’t cover deductibles/co-pays for hospital stays and doctor services, fees for doctors who charge more than Medicare pays, the cost of prescriptions, or dental care. You can fill these gaps by adding a supplemental Medigap policy and Part D policy, or by enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan. If you go the Medigap/Part D route, you’ll have fewer out-of-pocket costs, though your premiums will be higher than with Medicare Advantage.

Knowing how to get started in Medicare can eliminate some of the anxiety and confusion enrollees sometimes experience. Remember, it’s important to determine if you’d rather have higher premiums or higher out-of-pocket costs. Also, research the best ways for you to fill gaps in your coverage and get the plan you need.

Renaissance Team

Don't Overlook Your Emotional Healthcare As A Caregiver

Journaling and the Benefits for the Caregiver

I do realize that journaling can be hard to start, if you don’t know where to start, especially when you are already so busy with caregiving. However, I hope these tips help provide some insight on how to start so you too can reap the benefits of journaling. 

  • Find a small, pretty book with an appealing picture on the cover. Having something you enjoy looking at can encourage you to write.

  • Write what you want to write. There is no set amount of style or words.

  • Choose a particular place and time that will help develop a mindset for your thoughts. Some people like a busy lounge, others like a cozy nook.

  • You choose the medium, write about anything you choose. Write about your day, celebrate small wins, write down future goals, or write about memories.

  • Review your journal entries from time to time. It’s great for reflection and to dive deeper into the meaning of what you are trying to express. 

Just do it, you’ll be happy you did. Journaling really can be transformative to your life. Here is a list of benefits that this simple activity can do: 

  • Develops Self-Worth – Caregivers realize the many things they are doing right by writing down daily events and thoughts.

  • Provides Clarity – The simple act of writing words on a page brings clarity. When difficult situations present themselves, journaling helps identify the significance of events.

  • Reduce Stress – A caregiver’s anxiety and health levels have a direct impact on the person they care for. If you care for yourself by reducing your own stress levels, you will be better prepared for what comes your way.

  • Deflects Anger– As you write about anger, you should notice a decrease of emotion and start moving toward a calmer state.

  • Develop Personal Insight – This can help identify personal traits that you may need to work on. Some people realize they need to work on being more of a patient caregiver.

  • Provides Time to Reflect – Journaling forces caregivers to slow down, take a few minutes to breath during a busy day. Time for yourself can really help a caregiver re-focus and re-charge. 

Journaling is like speaking with a trusted friend who listens and provides transformative respite. It presents an opportunity for emotional catharsis and helps the brain regulate emotions. It provides a greater sense of confidence and self-identity. Our hope is that if you choose to journal that it will be a key tool in your journey, and that you may too see the benefits it has waiting for you.