Americans are getting older. By 2060, Americans aged 65 and older will make up 24% of the population. A 2017 survey revealed that 57% of Americans believe this is a problem.

But there are solutions. Hospice care can comfort an individual who is at the end of their life. They can receive four separate levels of hospice care to manage their various symptoms.

But what exactly is hospice care? What is hospice care at home, and how does it compare to inpatient measures? What can a family receive in terms of support?

Answer these questions and you can help people be pain-free and comfortable. Here is your quick hospice care guide.

What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is health care for individuals who have a terminal illness. A doctor must determine that a person has six months or less to live.

Procedures are designed to mitigate pain and increase their quality of life. A person will stop receiving treatments that can cure an illness. But if their condition improves, they can transition to curative measures.

Hospice treatments can include family therapy sessions, medications, and bereavement care. The family is included in the care. They can go to therapists for support whenever they need it.

Medicare organizes hospice care into four separate levels. A person may progress through all four in order. They may skip one, or they may only use one or two.

Hospice care is independent of palliative care. Palliative care helps people manage their ongoing health conditions.

It can include similar measures to hospice care like spiritual support. But people can take curative treatments alongside palliative ones.

Routine Home Care

Routine home care is the first level of hospice care. It is a basic level of treatment that meets a person’s essential needs.

Doctors expect people at this stage to improve steadily over time. An individual remains in their home, though they can leave to receive other treatments.

Nursing is a common service that many people receive. A nurse may come to clean the individual, give them medication, and perform basic medical procedures.

Many individuals also receive physical and occupational therapy. They can improve their sense of balance and dexterity. They can learn how to use tools like walkers and canes.

An individual can get help from their loved ones. Family members may be expected to give medication and perform tasks like dress wounds. They remain in touch with a medical professional who can give them advice whenever they need it.

Continuous Home Care

Continuous home care takes place during moments of crisis. A person may suffer from symptoms like difficulty breathing and extreme pain.

A family member can call for a nurse to remain in the house. The nurse will administer care so the individual’s symptoms are under control. They stay until the person can return to basic care.

Family members act in family roles during this stage of care. Yet a nurse may ask them for help. This is especially important if the person is disoriented and needs comfort from their loved ones.

A person can receive continuous care for several days. If more advanced treatments are needed, they can go to inpatient care.

General Inpatient Care

Inpatient care occurs whenever a person’s symptoms cannot be managed at home. The signs that a person needs assisted living are similar to the signs for inpatient care. They will go to an inpatient clinic to receive advanced treatment.

There are several locations that a person can go to. They can go into a free-standing hospice facility. They can also go to a hospice unit inside a hospital or nursing facility.

The symptoms someone may have may be similar to the ones they had under continuous home care. But they may be more intense, or the individual may require closer supervision. This makes staying in an inpatient facility necessary.

Doctors will try to give the best care they can. Their goal is to allow a person to return home once their symptoms have improved. They can run tests and perform surgeries in order to do so.

An individual can choose to go to an inpatient center as well. They may want more room or amenities than they can get at home. Most hospice centers are designed to provide amenities akin to those that people can receive in their homes.

Respite Care

Respite care comprises treatments for family members and loved ones. At any point during an individual’s course of treatment, their family members can ask for them to be admitted into an inpatient center. This will give them a break while their loved one continues to get care.

The family can go on vacation, attend to work, and complete household tasks. The medical team at the center will remain in touch with them. If their loved one’s condition changes, they can go to the center.

Respite care can last a few days at the most. The family is expected to return and help with their loved one’s care. If they need more time, they can transition their family member to general inpatient care.

They can also receive different services from therapists. They can talk to a chaplain or a psychotherapist and work on problem-solving strategies for their stress.

The Levels of Hospice Care

Hospice care promotes comfort during an individual’s final days. Family members and doctors attend to them so they experience less pain. The levels of hospice care all provide similar amounts of care.

But they offer different resources. During basic care, the individual remains at home and receives services from loved ones. Continuous care resolves emergencies with a nurse’s help.

Inpatient care manages major symptoms and provides clinical tools. Respite care is a temporary version of inpatient care so family members can relax.

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