Hospice And Palliative Care To Empower Your Loved One

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Villa Saint Francis

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Jul 14, 2022

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Kansas/Missouri - Kansas City

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Hospice And Palliative Care To Empower Your Loved One

Chris DiMaso | July 28, 2021

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” 2 Cor 1:3

Hospice and palliative care are unique services available to help empower you and your loved one during end-of-life. This article is to help you make a decision on what services you need and provide you with resources to move forward.

What is hospice?
Hospice is a unique service that focuses on patients and their caregivers who are facing advanced end-of-life illness. Hospice provides compassionate care for people in their final phase of life so they can live in peace and comfort. The guiding philosophy of hospice is to regard death as the final stage of life. It respects life without trying to postpone death. Hospice focuses on the needs of the person and alleviating the symptoms afflicting them, related to their disease process instead of aggressively trying to cure the disease. Hospice works as a holistic team to manage symptoms, so the patient’s final time is met with quality and dignity. Hospice care is family-focused and includes the patient and their loved ones when making decisions.

What does hospice do?
When a care provider deems hospice is the right course of action, the patient will choose a hospice agency that suites their needs. Often the hospital or nursing facility can help provide options if the family doesn’t already have a choice in mind. The patient will be visited by a hospice nurse for an evaluation. Two doctors must agree that the patient’s prognosis is 6 months or less to qualify for services. If a patient qualifies, they are admitted and services begin. An interdisciplinary team is assigned to the patient/family that includes: an RN Case Manager, Social Worker, Home Health Aide, bereavement coordinator and a Chaplain and volunteers if they wish. Often hospice agencies also have complementary therapies such as music therapy, massage therapy, aromatherapy, and beautician services. This team approach is overseen by a hospice medical director who will collaborate with the primary physician of the patient. A patient can choose to have the hospice medical director as their primary physician if they prefer.

Services offered in hospice care include, but are not limited to:

  • Symptom and medication management from a nurse.
  • Coordinating resources with a social worker.
  • Personal care and assistance with bathing needs from a home health aide.
  • Spiritual support from a chaplain.
  • Companionship from volunteers.
  • Bereavement support for 13 months after their loved one passes away.
  • Supplies/delivers medications that relate to the course of treatment, medical equipment that the patient needs in their home such as a hospital bed/wheelchair/shower chair etc.
  • Supplies personal care protection such as bathing supplies and dignity items.
  • On-call nursing support 24/7. Outside of business hours, there will be a nurse available to make visits for emergent needs at all times. Hospice wants to be the new “911” for their patient.

Who needs hospice?
Hospice is considered when you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an illness that will limit the length and quality of life. Speak with your care provider about all options, including hospice. Frequent reasons to consider hospice include but are not limited to late-stage dementia and Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, AIDS, ALS, COPD and others. Patients can become eligible for hospice care services when their provider deems that the natural course of illness has a life expectancy of six months or less. It is important that comfort and care of symptom management becomes the priority, and continuing treatment of the illness is no longer beneficial. Hospice care provides a level of support that is unrivaled. An interdisciplinary team of clinicians, social workers, spiritual and grief counselors, and volunteers rally around you or your loved one to meet their needs. This can range from medical treatment and cessation of pain, to coordination of services, or making peace with family and a higher power.

“At the end of our lives, what do we most wish for? For many, it’s simply comfort, respect, love.” -BJ Miller

What are the options in hospice?
End-of-life care is personal and should be tailored to meet the needs and desires of the individual. This can include everything from the level of care needed to directives of where someone wishes to pass.

Hospice vs palliative care
Hospice and palliative care address many of the same issues, but can look very different on a case-by-case basis. Hospice is intended for individuals will a life expectancy of fewer than six months, where palliative care isn’t limited to this time period. Your loved one could benefit from advanced care even if their illness is not life-limiting in the near future. End-of-life goals and symptom management are crucial in both scenarios, and it is important to meet with your healthcare provider to discuss which is appropriate for you or your loved one.

Home-based care
Depending on the resources needed, some patients choose to remain in the home at the end of their journey. This decision is closely linked to the goals of the patient, their condition, and the amount and quality of support available. It is important to note, that the hospice benefit does not include private duty care/or around the clock nursing services.

Long-term care facilities
Facilities like Villa St. Francis offer higher levels of support and can address needs on a case-by-case basis. We offer tranquil settings both in private and semi-private rooms. Our team works closely with Hospice services to ensure pain and symptom management is addressed 24 hours a day, and our nurses and CNAs are available to take care of the patient around the clock and coordinate care plans with hospice professionals who supply supplementary care. We have social workers and spiritual care on-site. Working with Villa St. Francis and a hospice service offers a comprehensive level of care.

General inpatient care
The highest level of care under hospice is called GIP- general inpatient. A patient can qualify for this if their symptoms are unmanageable in their home. GIP is considered “the ICU” of hospice. This can occur in the hospital, but most patients prefer not to return to or remain in the hospital at end of life. Villa St. Francis has a dedicated wing, called The Hospice Suites, with private rooms that can accommodate GIP level of care, with 24 hour RN support.

Who pays for hospice?
The majority of patients requiring hospice services will be eligible for Medicare Hospice Benefit, which covers up to 100% of services. You should not defer hospice due to concerns about payment or financial concerns. Medicare covers hospice as an inclusive benefit and all services related to a life limiting illness are included up to 100% by Medicare Part A. Services unrelated to the illness are covered by Parts A and B where normal rules apply.

Little known facts about hospice

  • Hospice isn’t giving up; it is speaking up. Working with a hospice service ensures you or your loved one’s needs will be heard and addressed.
  • People can live longer with hospice. It is not unusual for someone to live longer when the quality of their life increases. Pain management and peace of mind are contributing factors to someone’s life expectancy.
  • Hospice isn’t a place; it is a philosophy of care. Most hospice patients receive care in their home, but even when it is it elsewhere it remains about the treatment.
  • Hospice gives you control, not take it away. Death, just like life is very personal. Hospice professionals work diligently to ensure that the wishes of the patient and their family are upheld.
  • Hospice isn’t about giving up medical care, it merely changes the goal. Rather than focusing on length of life, you focus on quality of life.
  • Through medical treatments and therapies, you or your loved one can enjoy the rest of their life.
  • Hospice is for the entire family, not just the patient. End of life is a stressful time, not just for the patient but also the family. Hospice can relieve some of the burden by offering care and respite to the family.
  • Working with social workers and bereavement counselors can help in planning.

What to look for in a hospice provider.
Talk to the professionals. Your doctor, nurses, and social workers are great resources when it comes to choosing a hospice provider. Also, speak with friends and neighbors for advice, it is likely they have had the experience you can draw from in making your decision. You are encouraged to interview hospice agencies to choose the one that is best for you and your family.

Consider asking some of the following questions of the hospice agencies before making a decision:

  • Are you Medicare-certified?
  • Who is on the hospice care team and how often do they make visits?
  • Are you non-profit or for-profit?
  • Do you have a dedicated pharmacy for medicine and do they deliver medications?
  • How are pain and other symptoms managed?
  • What services are offered in your program?
  • What complementary therapies do you provide?
  • What services do you offer the family?

Read more about what Villa St. Francis has to offer you and your loved one during this time. 

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Home Improvements: How to Prevent Slips and Falls from Rain, Snow, and Ice This WinterRain, snow, and ice during winter increase the risk of slips and falls among elderly loved ones. Seeing as most people aged 65 and above have mobility issues, rain, snow, and ice during winter make navigating even harder for them. Luckily, you can make some home improvements to ensure their safety during this period. Here are expert home improvement tips from Senior Helpers to prevent slips and falls among senior citizens.Invest In Proper FootwearWinter is characterized by slippery surfaces, and this can worsen balance issues in elderly loved ones and cause slips and falls, which may result in serious injuries. To prevent this, invest in proper footwear. Senior's shoes are well-treaded with a rubber sole that not only prevents skids and falls but also keeps the feet warm while walking around the house.Enhance LightingElderly loved ones often have visual problems; therefore, their caregivers should improve the lighting at home during winter to prevent them from tripping over things. This is especially needed in areas such as bathrooms and stairways.Use Absorbent and Anti-Slip MatsAbsorbent and anti-slip mats come in handy for walkway and doorway areas throughout the home. They absorb the water from the rain and ice during winter, reducing slips and falls. Also, keep common walk areas clean and dry at all times during the winter season.Check For Trip Hazards Around the HomeTrip and slip hazards include potholes or cracks around the home. Check for these and have them repaired before winter. Additionally, clutter, such as trailing electrical cords, toys, and boxes, can lead to fall accidents. They should also be cleared to leave enough space around to accommodate walkers and canes.Install Mobility AidsMobility aids such as grab bars and safety poles are essential when fall-proofing an elderly loved one's home. They help seniors maintain balance and stability when navigating wet and slippery surfaces during winter.Plan For Ice and Snow RemovalYou should also schedule for ice and snow around the home. This can be done with the help of other family members or by engaging professionals. For indoor ice, you can use a floor fan to keep walk paths and floors dry.Spread Sand or SaltSpreading sand or salt on the walkway lowers the freezing point of the water, reducing the amount of ice to declutter and providing traction. This makes it easy and safe for seniors to move around.Add Non-Slip TapeNon-slip tapes have a textured upper surface that makes them slip-resistant. Add them on the floor to prevent elderly loved ones from skidding on wet surfaces.Stair TreadsStair treads on both outdoor and indoor stairs prevent fall accidents during winter. They are made from slip-resistant and stain-free material.Clear Fallen Tree Branches Around the Home During WinterWinter storms and rain may break weak tree branches. These branches are safety hazards that may trip seniors and cause injuries. If there are trees around your home, clear any fallen branches immediately after they fall.Senior Helpers of Burnsville Can HelpSlips and falls can be serious health hazards to our elderly loved ones. Therefore, home improvements before and during winter are important to ensure their safety. However, caution should be exercised when improving the home; consult an expert if you cannot make the changes on your own.Senior Helpers of Burnsville can do a house safety evaluation and help you fall-proof it to be safe for seniors. If you're looking for more personalized help, we also have professional caregivers serving Burnsville, Saint Paul, and Cottage Grove, Hastings. Contact us to get a caregiver you can trust.

Causes and Prevention of Falls in Seniors

Causes and Prevention of Falls in SeniorsChances are, you or an older adult you know has had a fall. Each year, more than 1 out of 4 people ages 65 and older fall. Furthermore, emergency departments treat 3 million seniors for injuries from falls each year.Falling is the leading cause of accidents, serious injuries, and accidental deaths in older adults.  Falls should be taken seriously when they occur, as they can be a major threat to seniors health and independence. Understandably, falling is a common fear for many seniors, even if they have never fallen before. However, falls do not have to be inevitable with age. There are many ways to prevent or reduce an older adults chance of falling. Causes of FallsAccording to The National Institute on Aging, a number of factors can lead to a fall, including certain health conditions and environmental risks. 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However, it is these activities and others that encourage movement, keep the body in good physical condition, and actually help prevent falls in the long run.Prevention of FallsWhile it is impossible to prevent all falls, it is possible to reduce the chance of having a serious fall by taking the following actions:Stay physically active. Exercise frequently to strengthen your muscles, maintain flexibility in your joints and ligaments, and slow bone loss caused by osteoporosis. Engage in balance training. Yoga, pilates and Tai Chi are effective ways to exercise and improve your balance and flexibility.Make your home safer and fall-proof. Remove clutter, rugs, and cords that could be tripping hazards. Install grab bars near the shower and toilet, and have non-slip mats in the bathroom and shower. Make sure the stairs have handrails and that the house has ample lighting. Keep frequently-used items in cabinets within reach so you do not have to use a step stool.Have your hearing and vision checked at least once a year. Even the slightest changes in hearing and sight are linked to an increased fall risk. If you wear eyeglasses, make sure they are up to date.Talk to your doctor. Your doctor can evaluate your risk of falling, check your blood pressure, review your medications for potential dizziness side effects, and recommend certain supplements if needed.Get enough sleep. Being tired makes you more likely to have a fall. It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.Avoid or limit alcohol. Too much alcohol consumption can lead to balance issues and falls.Use a cane or walker. These assistive devices can help steady you when you walk. Make sure your cane or walker is the right size for you and the wheels roll smoothly.Take extra caution in wet conditions. Consider staying indoors in these conditions as a precaution. Take advantage of the delivery services offered by many grocery stores and pharmacies instead.Choose safe footwear. For full foot support, wear non-skid, rubber soled shoes with low heels. Do not walk around in socks or slippers without traction.Next StepsWhen you or a loved one have a fall, it can reveal or trigger the need for additional support. Whether you are looking for support in a residential senior community or are seeking in-home care services, Florida Senior Consulting can help. Our certified staff and licensed nurse advocates will find you the care you need to lead a healthy lifestyle, stay safe and lower your risk of falls and injuries. With this peace of mind ultimately comes a better quality of life. Call us today at (941) 661-6196 or visit floridaseniorconsulting.com to talk to an expert about your individual situation, needs and preferences. We will find you the care you need to live your best life. 

Local Services By This Author

Villa Saint Francis

Skilled Nursing 16600 W 126th St, Olathe, Kansas, 66062

For more than 70 years, Villa St. Francis Catholic Care Center has been providing care with compassion, excellence, and dignity to the Kansas City community. Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, Villa St. Francis offers long term care, short term rehabilitation, and skilled memory care to people of all faith backgrounds, all on its beautiful and accessible Olathe campus. With almost 30% of staff having been with the Villa for 5 years or more, a five-star Quality Measures rating from the CMS, and a faith-based dedication to providing excellent care regardless of a residents financial means, Villa St. Francis is redefining senior care in Kansas City.