Avera Medical Minute: How to talk about hospice care with a loved one

Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 9:05 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Why is it important to have this conversation?

“It’s important because individuals are actually eligible for hospice services when they are dealing with a serious illness or a terminal illness. When a physician feels a disease runs its normal course or that life expectancy is measured in 6 months or less. Sadly, people come to hospice too late and they are not able to take full benefit of that. Right now in our country, the average time individuals are on hospice is 70 days. Hospice is a Medicare benefit and private insurance covers similar to Medicare as well,” said Avera Nurse Practitioner Mindi Vandekamp.

One can imagine these conversations can be difficult. Are there any tips on how to navigate to begin that conversation?

“They can be difficult to have. I encourage you to recognize and acknowledge what your loved one is going through and that they are going through a lot lately and also be able to share any hopes and concerns that you have. It’s always a patient’s choice to enroll in hospice services if they have that decision or capacity. It’s a philosophy of care, holistic care that is there to provide patients and their loved ones an additional layer of support for patients and their families. The focus is managing their symptoms and also the quality of life,” said Vandekamp

What are the typical myths that people may think of?

“One of the myths and fears that people may have is that they fear that making that transition to hospice is that they’re giving up. Or that there is no hope or that they fear that people go to hospice and then they pass away right away. Hospice has actually been proven to help extend life. By helping to manage their symptoms and helping them feel better. People who are actually on hospice services or have that support actually end up living longer than those who do not have that support,” said Vandekamp.