As senior citizens and their family members enter the final stages of life, they have a host of new terms and language to understand. Some people mistakenly believe that nursing care, palliative care, and hospice care mean the same things. Having a better understanding of those terms can help aging individuals and those who love them make better choices about medical care when serious illnesses strike. Eldercare counselors and social workers can be very helpful for families in understanding the different types of care and when they are appropriate.
Seniors and their families may be the most familiar with terms like nursing care, palliative care, and hospice care, but those terms are not synonymous. Each type of care is designed for a particular purpose and has its own place in the field of senior care. Nursing care is appropriate for people who have ongoing medical or mental health needs, but who do not have a terminal illness. Palliative care is not curative care, but is aimed at pain management and keeping the patient comfortable. Palliative care is used for patients that may or may not have a life-limiting illness. Hospice care typically starts when a patient has six months or less left of life, but it can also begin earlier.
Medicare will pay for hospice services for two 90-day periods, followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods. The attending physician uses his judgment and medical expertise to determine life expectancy. If the person lives longer than that, Medicare will still cover the charges for hospice, as long as the physician determines that the person is still terminally ill. Individuals and family members may change providers only once during each benefit period.
VITAS Healthcare has multiple options for hospice care. Hospice at Home in Milwaukee sends hospice teams out to visit patients in their homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. VITAS also offers inpatient hospice units for people who want a home-like environment, but need the continuous medical care that can’t be provided at home. VITAS also offers specialty services like music therapy and animal therapy.
Aurora Health Care also has an 18-bed hospice residential center for people who have a loved one that cannot be cared for at home, or who choose not to be at home. The center has large patient suites that accommodate overnight stays for family and friends. The facility also has family lounges, a meditation space, a library, and a solarium that make for a peaceful, serene environment for nurturing the final days of life.
Heartland Hospice Care serves all of southeastern Wisconsin. Staff assures individuals and family members that they don’t have to give up hope to get hospice. Palliative care that relieves patients from pain and other symptoms can continue while the patient receives hospice care. Hospice services are provided around the clock, seven days a week. The organization is fully accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care.
Find assisted living in Milwaukee near you.