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What is Hospice Care?

The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law.  Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances.

Hospice care is a type of health care that patients with terminally ill conditions rely on at the end of their lives. This type of care focuses on pain management and emotional, spiritual, and familial support for patients nearing the end of their lives.

There are several options for receiving hospice care, including being cared for at home.  The type of intimate care a patient receives while in hospice is more conducive to being received at the patient’s home.  This becomes a team effort, and it helps to have a peaceful environment when receiving care.

Patients with serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, dementia, kidney failure, or other fatal conditions benefit from hospice care.  This type of care can help the patient live a more comfortable life while decreasing the emotional burden of grief for families by preparing them for the loss of their loved one.

When Is Hospice Recommended?

Hospice care should not only be considered by those who have loved ones nearing the end of their lives.  While most of these services are generally reserved for people with six months or less to live, early hospice care can be beneficial for patients and their families as well.

You may wish to consider such services in the following cases:

– The patient has a serious decline in their physical well-being

– After a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia

– You have decided to forgo any treatment to improve your physical treatment or care for your illness

Who Makes Up a Hospice Care Team?

Your hospice team can consist of many different types of people.  Various professionals and volunteers may be involved in end-of-life care. Some of those you may see on your care team can include:

– Doctors

– Nurses

– Social workers

– Spiritual advisors

– Trained volunteers

Who Pays for Hospice Home Care?

Like any other health care option, these services can quickly become very expensive.  Fortunately, there are several ways to cover the cost, including:

Government Programs

Private Insurance

Charitable Organizations

Having a well written power of attorney that includes health care is an important part of a comprehensive estate plan.  I suggest that it may even be more important than setting up a Last Will and Testament, because an power of attorney for health care will help you and your agent manage your health care while you are still alive and possibly under hospice care.  It’s worthwhile to give your health care  some thought in advance.

Sam A. Moak is an attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Moak & Moak, P.C.  He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas, is a Member of the State Bar College, and is a member of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.  www.moakandmoak.com

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