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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Choose Hospice - Because Every Chapter Counts

Choosing hospice is a personal decision that depends on the patient’s individual values, preferences and priorities.  It means transitioning from one set of goals (working to extend life) to another set of goals (working to ensure quality of life for the time remaining).  Hospice is about alleviating suffering so that the focus can be on more personal aspects of dying like one’s legacy, relationships and achieving a sense of closure.  Too many people wait to receive hospice care until the last few weeks or days causing them to miss out on months of helpful care and quality time.  Most all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover the cost of hospice. 

  • Where is hospice?

Hospice is a philosophy of care, not a place.  You can receive hospice services in an assisted living community, at a nursing home, at the hospital or wherever you call home.  We bring the care to you.  We understand that most people prefer to be at home in the days leading to end of life. 

  • How do I qualify for hospice?

Two physicians must certify that you have a life-altering diagnosis with an expected prognosis of six months or less. 

  • Can my primary care physician continue to see me?

Absolutely!  Your personal physician is welcome and encouraged to continue your direct care. 

  • Does hospice hasten death with the use of pain medications? 

No.  There is no evidence that opioids like morphine hasten the dying process.  In fact, research suggests that using opioids to treat pain or shortness of breath may help a person live a bit longer.  Pain medications provide relief and comfort improving quality of life during the dying process. 

  • What if I accept hospice services and then change my mind? 

It is always your choice to enter or leave hospice.  If you find that your illness improves or you decide to seek curative treatment or you are unhappy with services, you may leave hospice care at any time, returning if and when you choose.  

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dementia Capable Providers Make the Joy Rides Possible

There are two types of people in the world, those who would take a dementia patient for a joy ride and those who would say it’s a waste of gas.

Healthcare providers who are serious and committed to caring for Alzheimer's and dementia patients should want to make the joy rides possible.  The focus should be on optimizing quality of life and working to make memorable moments possible. 

Dementia Specialty Programs should be purpose-driven, structured, holistic, visionary and evidence-based.  Taking the time to get to know patients and clients in the present and in the past is necessary because it makes developing holistic plans of care based on client’s individual values, preferences and priorities possible.    Dementia care involves the whole person – body, mind, spirit and emotions. 

Objectives should include:  

·         Identifying the disease-specific needs of individuals and families
·         Specifying the roles and responsibilities of members of  inter-disciplinary teams
·         Providing on-going education and integrating best practices in the delivery of care
·         Engaging in community outreach to help combat misconceptions and the stigma

Begin by screening and selecting experienced caregivers that exemplify qualities like patience, the ability to solve problems, kindness, creative-thinking and respectfulness.  Focus on education including Certified Dementia Practitioner training, cultural sensitivity training and other on-going educational opportunities.  The success of any program hinges on continuous learning and adaption as the disease progresses.