Archive for Benefits

We Said No to One Hospice

Choices and doors

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

But we do, don’t we? Or what about this cliché:  first impressions matter? Indeed, they do.

My mother’s unexpected cancer diagnosis was around this time six years ago. After a problematic surgery, she quickly required a second one: an inevitable “corrective” procedure. These efforts were designed to provide temporary relief from a tumor-caused blockage in her colon. However, even if the first surgery had been successful, our family would have still needed a hospice evaluation.

Time, and Mom’s relentless, rotten stage-4 disease, was not on anyone’s side.

Since we were unfamiliar with the hospices where Mom lived, my two sisters and I briefly pondered transporting her to my home. Once there, she could be served by the hospice where I work. That thought evaporated like snow in the desert. Contemplating a grueling 170-mile ride and her living far away from supportive friends had too many negatives. For us back then (and for the many who suddenly face hospice care “right now”), each of the dwindling options seem to add more complications.

What should we do? Read More →

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Take Advantage of Hospice!

A friend’s grandmother recently entered hospice care. (Which, for confidentiality’s sake, may not be correct. It’s not his grandmother. And my friend could be a her rather than a his.)

This is all you need to know: my friend is tired. Caring for a loved one is exhausting.

Soon after the grandmother entered hospice, my friend planned respite time because of being weary and worn down. 

What? Respite? What’s that?

The Medicare benefits of hospice allow for an occasional “break” for caregivers. At the hospice where I work, that means a patient could spend several days away from their home and stay at our inpatient facility, a modified suburban house. With only six beds, space isn’t guaranteed. But if there’s a bed, a parent or spouse or other beloved can be supported while the primary caregiver rests—gets respite. There are other choices, such as briefly entering a skilled nursing facility or hospital. All hospices will have suggested options for respite time. Ask one of the hospice staff. They will have an answer. Read More →

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Hospice Benefits Aren’t a Free Lunch, However…

Of course, there’s no such thing as a…

I arrived at the hospital to tell a gentleman about hospice care and benefits. According to his medical chart, he was ninety-seven years old. Before meeting him, I calculated he’d been born not long after the turn of the century. As in the prior century, when Teddy Roosevelt became president and horses represented a key transportation choice for most Americans.

Many years ago, I served as a hospice chaplain. At some point, my boss had asked me to tackle a new responsibility: introducing hospice to potential patients. Why me? Was it my loud voice? Or maybe it was because, as a pastor who’d preached quite a few sermons, I can give the impression that I know what I’m talking about?

Entering our potential patient’s hospital room, I glanced at the first bed where a young Asian-American man returned my nod.

Definitely not my patient!

The other patient perched on a chair in the corner, a tray of food before him, chatting with people I guessed to be his daughter and wife. Drawing closer, I thought this guy could pass for seventy-five. Could the chart be wrong about his age? Read More →

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