Facing end-of-life care options, whether they be for yourself or a loved one, can be a difficult process. After all, there are many factors that go into the picture, such as location, price, amenities, medical needs, socialization, activities and litany of other choices. Oftentimes, it falls to the caregiver to figure out exactly how someone’s end-of-life care will proceed, and usually the process is not so black and white.
For example, if someone is suffering from terminal illness and doesn’t have very long to live, they may wish to remain in their household as opposed to staying in a hospital or other clinical setting that is less comfortable. The level of care that your senior needs will largely determine the kind of end-of-life care settings you decide on.
Making these challenges on behalf of another family member or loved one can be a lot of pressure. Advanced care planning is critical for ensuring that your loved one’s preferences are are able to come to fruition. Care planning also ensures that medical and other care providers know exactly how to take care of your senior. Here are the different types of services, the benefits they offer, and an approximation of costs involved.
Hospice Care is best for seniors who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and are medically certified for a life expectancy of 6 or less months of life. In order for insurance to cover hospice care, patients must decline curative treatment and elect to receive symptom treatment and comfort care. In these instances, seniors may be prescribed medications such as opioids to relieve pain associated with terminal illness.
This type of care is beneficial because it is not limited to one specific environment. Patients can receive care in a variety of settings such as at home, in the hospital, in a long term care facility, or nursing home. They will have their symptoms address with medications that can ease any physical pain. Family members and patients can also receive grief and loss counseling. Patients in hospice care can be discontinued at any time if the patient wishes or if their prognosis changes.
Palliative care and hospice are two forms of end of life care that are often mistaken for one another. Any senior who is suffering from a severe illness and found to have a life expectancy longer than six months is eligible to receive palliative care. Some of the most common illnesses and ailments associated with palliative care include heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney failure, and cancer.
Palliative care programs differ from hospice care programs because they are for terminal illnesses that may last longer than 6 months, though patients may elect to continue curative care for symptoms such as sleep problems, anxiety, nausea, depression and more. Both types of care are provided by health care professionals with very similar specialties, such as home health aides and professional caregivers.
Home Based Care
Home based care depends largely on the needs of the patient for care, as well as their condition, the amount of support available, and whether home care is an adequate option. It will become vital for caregivers to establish a care routine and possibly rotate with other care providers so as to avoid burnout.
The biggest benefit of home-based care is that seniors can receive end-of-life care in a familiar environment that they are comfortable with. This type of care provides caregivers more autonomy and control over the daily activities, visitors, and environment of their senior. Plus, seniors will be less likely to experience confusion or delirium while in a home setting as opposed to the hospital.
The biggest drawback to this approach is that your seniors will no have access to all the same medical care devices and support of residential based treatment options. If their terminal illness confines them to the bed or a wheelchair, it can become difficult for friends and family members to continue to provide service.
Long Term Residential Facilities
Assisted living is for seniors who need help with day-to-day activities but don’t need as much care as a nursing home provides. Assisted living facilities can range in size from a few dozen residents to over 100. Generally, when looking for assisted living there are levels of care that each facility offers.
Understanding what your loved one needs and choosing the proper care level that they require is important for maintaining their happiness. Assisted living generally live in their own apartments or rooms and share common areas with other residents at the facility. Seniors with terminal illness who need round-the-clock supervision and skilled nursing services would benefit from placement in a facility such as this.
Benefits of Long-term care include access to a wide range of care needs, including medical and personal care services, plus the chance for socializing with other seniors and taking part in fun activities. However, not every assisted living facilities comes equipped to handle end-of-life care. In this instance, you will have to inquire about potential end-of-life care services available. Generally, this approach can be costly. The average assisted living residence cost roughly $3600 per month in the 2015, and any type of skilled nursing facility will cost even more.
Seniors who require a more intense level of medical care may want to opt for hospital-based care. Hospital-based care includes specialty services plus general inpatient and intensive units. This way, no matter the emergency, your senior will be covered my experienced medical professionals. Hospital based care is generally the best option for seniors requiring medical attention and supervision on a regular basis.
However, individuals going through end of life care may not wish to spend their final time in a hospital setting. Family visitation hours may be flexible, but there will not be as much time to spend with your loved one, nor will they feel as comfortable as they once did at home. One of the biggest benefits to this approach is that medicare, medicaid, and private insurers may cover parts of a patient’s stay in the hospital. Depending upon the policy and coverage provided, a portion of the cost may not be covered. In this case, the patient is required to pay out of pocket.
There are plenty of options that caregivers have when evaluating options for their senior loved ones who are facing the end-of-life. The most important thing to do is fully weigh the options available and evaluate what will be best for your senior. Visit Landmark Senior Living to learn more about senior living options.