In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson discusses hospice and what hospice election means.
Today I want to talk to you about hospice and understanding what hospice election means. When they talk about going on hospice, what they’re really talking about is making a decision to not have what’s called “curative care,” things that are intended to get you better. But instead, to have “palliative care,” which is to make you more comfortable.
Now, here’s the interesting thing about that: It is not a permanent decision. If you have a condition, say cancer that is terminal, you can elect hospice and receive all the advantages in terms of that in palliative care, but then let’s say while you’re going through your hospice treatment you break your hip, you can elect to go off hospice, get treated for the broken hip and after you’ve recovered from that and gotten your curative care, you can go back on hospice.
I tell people, think of hospice as being like a light switch. You can turn that thing on and off as often as you want or need to do that. One of the things that’s important about that is that you really shouldn’t wait in that situation to be right near the end for hospice. If you’re at a point where you have a condition that’s eventually going to be terminal and you’re offered hospice, I think it’s a good idea to get it because of the advantages of having palliative care.
One other thing on hospice, hospice providers vary in the nature and scope of the services that they provide. They get a lot of their money from the government from Medicare, but also do their own fundraising, and the extent of their fundraising efforts can determine basically what other services they can offer to people. So, if you’re told to go on hospice, you may get a recommendation for hospice providers – probably a good recommendation, but you should also look around and find one and select one that you think is going to be the best match for your or your family member’s situation.
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