This is a really difficult article to write. Our elder is approaching the point where hospice is probably needed. Deciding when and choosing how won’t be easy. There is a lot of information needed, more than I know right now. Here is what I have learned.
Insurance: Many insurance policies cover hospice care, but a few don’t. There are a few that offer limited access. If the insurance will help pay for it, the decision will be a lot easier because it won’t add finances to the scale.
Access to Insurance: Like everything else we’ve tried to do, a lot of paperwork has to be filed in order to find out if an elder’s insurance pays for hospice. In our case, apparently the doctor’s side is different from the administration and they don’t share information. Even though we’ve already filed the information via the doctors, we had to re-file it with administration. If we’d known in advance that this was needed, we’d be a lot better off.
Medicare: Yes, Medicare may cover some hospice services. That will help, but to be honest, the insurance companies that cover hospice provide more and are the better choice if it’s available.
Preparing Yourself: There is nothing that will prepare you fully for this. Even knowing in advance that the time is near doesn’t really help with the emotions. However, it does help you get things lined up and will be useful in letting other family members know.
Crying: This is a natural response. While hospice doesn’t always mean the end is near, in many cases it does. In our case it most likely does. If you feel like crying, cry. It won’t help anyone if you hold it in. If you need to do so, slip into another room where you can have some privacy. This advice is for men as much as it is for women.
Helping Your Family: Someone has to be practical, and not every family member is going to be able to do that in this situation. If you can be the practical one, do what I’m doing; find out who can help, when it’s needed, how much is needed and so on. If you know you can’t do that, whether it’s time constraints, emotions or other problems, listen to the one who is practical. Also remember that it is not a pleasant task, getting all of this information.
Self Care: Find out what you need to stay healthy both physically and emotionally, then see to it that it happens. If you need something to help you keep calm, get it. You may need counseling, which is a service provided by hospice. You may need medications. It isn’t “sissified” to get help. It’s not a failing in you to need it. You can’t help your elder or your family if you break down.
There is a lot more about hospice and setting it up I don’t yet know. I’m learning something new every day. That’s probably how it’s supposed to be. Getting inundated with too much information too quickly would make it hard to figure out where to start. This is where we’re starting, and more will follow as things progress.