What does my family need to know about end-of-life care?

Sunrise Senior Living  |  January 23, 2017

The loss of a loved one is always a somber experience, but thankfully, due to the continuing advancements in health services, the number of Americans that are able to spend their final days in a comfortable and controlled setting is growing.

End-of-life care allows individuals to experience that final chapter in life with a dignified and calm feeling, as well as offer family members that peace of mind, support and a sense of comfort that can help ease that sorrow during this time. Being informed and conscious of this subject makes taking those steps in coordinating this care much easier and straightforward for everyone involved.

When is it time?
There are many conditions in existence that over time can become increasingly difficult and expensive to treat. This not only can be a burden for the patient, but can also create a painful and challenging experience as well. While deteriorating conditions and intolerable discomfort are two chief concerns when considering hospice care for a loved one, things such as complicated healthcare needs, sustained pain, and loss of mobility or capacity are also matters that should be taken into account.

It is hard to decipher the "right time" when deciding to make the decision to begin end-of-life care. Each and every family has a different approach and belief that can affect their decision. Ultimately, this choice is one that is deeply personal and involves tough choices for the whole group.

What does end-of-life care look like?
There are several types of end-of-life care available. Hospice care is for individuals that are nearing the end of their lifetime, with a terminal prognosis of six months or fewer. Palliative care is one that is more fitting for older adults living with a chronic condition and are in need of relief from the on-going pain and symptoms. In some cases, families may also choose to provide end-of-life care from home.

"End-of-life care gives individuals a dignified and calm final chapter in life."

In either case, a full team of medical professionals and support staff work around the clock to make sure that patients are as comfortable and well-cared for as possible. Every facility is different, which means that nurses and doctors may be supported by home health aides, spiritual counselors and social workers depending on the circumstance.

With that being said, there are people dedicated to helping family members navigate this new challenge and providing guidance with whatever might come next.

Paying for end-of-life care
The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that hospice care is covered by Medicare for eligible older adults, usually individuals with a terminal diagnosis. This organization makes affording end-of-life care easier for many families.

Other than that, Medicaid, private insurance and other sources of payment such as a pension or retirement fund may be used to pay for these services. Families should discuss different payment models and work with a knowledgeable provider to uncover all available options.

Selecting the right partner
One thing families should understand when facing the possibility of end-of-life care is being aware of all available resources available that offer support and guidance during this difficult time. The care professionals at Sunrise Senior Living can advise and help coordinate care for an older loved one. With the help of Sunrise, the best, most appropriate end-of-life care can be identified and any transition can be made as smooth and as comfortable as possible.