Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Eldercare Info: Myths About Hospice Dispelled

Chances are, you've heard the word "hospice" coming up in conversation lately. Stephanie Mehl, RN, of Providence Hospice of Seattle explains why.  "End of Life conversations are the equivalent of sex talks in the 70s," she says.  Boomers are facing these issues with their parents, and looking ahead to their own future. 

Mehl says that many people know that hospice is a supportive type of care available to people with a prognosis of six months or less.  They may not understand the myths related to hospice.

1.  MYTH 1: Hospice care is very expensive.  The truth is that Medicare covers all hospice services, medications and equipment.

2.  MYTH 2:  If my loved one or I go on hospice, we'll get 'sent' somewhere.  People hardly ever go to a special free-standing hospice building, Mehl says.  Instead, hospice services can be delivered in a person's home, in an assisted living or adult family home or in a nursing home.  Hospice care doesn't cover room and board, though.

3.  MYTH 3:  People on hospice die sooner than they might otherwise.  Hospice doesn't hasten death, Mehl says, citing a study which followed lung cancer patients.  Those on hospice lived on average 26 days longer than those not on hospice.  Good nutrition, hydration, pain control and attention to the whole person likely make a difference.

4.  MYTH 4:  Hospice professionals hang around all day long.  The purpose of hospice isn't to do 24-hour care.  Hospice professionals come in regularly to provide pain control, help with bathing, and support the patient and family.  They are not full-time caregivers. Hospice can be utilized for bereavement care as long as 15 months after the death.

5.  MYTH 5:  If my loved one or I go on hospice, we'll have to change doctors.  A hospice patient can keep his or her existing doctors.

This information was taken from a talk Stephanie Mehl, RN, gave to a group of senior care professionals called COPS (Coordinators of Patient Services) in Bellevue, Washington on September 16, 2015.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Free Counseling Progam for Caregivers Still Going Strong in King County, WA

Do you provide transportation for your aging parents?  Clean house or prepare meals in an effort to keep them independent and safe?   Do you monitor them from far away? Any of these tasks can qualify you as an unpaid caregiver.

Over time, caregiving is a recipe for stress.  If your loved one lives in King County, Washington, you may qualify for six free one-one-one counseling sessions through a program begun in 2013.

There's no income qualification.  And  you don't have to spend 40 hours a week doing caregiving tasks to be eligible for the program. Caregivers can be spouses, adult children or friends and they don't need to live with the vulnerable adult.

Sessions often take place at coffee shops; that's why it has been called "Starbucks Therapy." A home setting works well for others.  The program emphasizes problem solving, self-management and positive change.

One change was made this year.  The vulnerable adult must be living in their own home, the home of a loved one, a retirement community or senior independent housing.  He or she can't be living in an assisted living community, an adult family home or a nursing home. 

Seattle-King County Aging and Disability Services funds the program and Evergreen Health sponsors it.

Caregivers in King County can schedule their visits by calling 1-800-548-0558 or 425-899-6300.
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