Many think that hospice care solely administers medication to make people who are dying imminently feel more comfortable. However, hospice care is much more than that. It can positively impact the quality of one’s life during their final journey, as well as assist the individual’s family and friends to cope during this difficult period.

There is not just one hospice organization. The state of Massachusetts recognizes approximately 50 licensed hospice care organizations covering many cities and towns. In total, hospice care providers serve over 17,000 patients annually. This astounding figure comprises approximately one-third of the yearly deaths throughout Massachusetts. While the average length of patient care tends to be approximately three weeks, a hospice referral can be given if the patient’s illness provides a prognosis of six months or less. Most hospice care is provided in the patients’ homes.

Hospice Care Services

Hospice is a benefit covered by Medicaid, Medicare, Veterans Administration, or commercial insurance carriers. All medications and medical equipment related to an individual’s terminal diagnosis are provided. Certain providers even go above and beyond to provide its service free of charge to individuals who do not have insurance.

Upon receiving a referral for patient care, a hospice care coordinator will meet with a patient and their family. They will develop a plan to address the following matters:

  • zero tolerance pain management;
  • settlement of legal and personal affairs;
  • spiritual support to the patient; and
  • deprivation support to survivors.

Hospice care professionals plan for and treat the process of their patients’ death similarly to how a hospital would address the birth of a child. One hospice official highlights, “Birth and death are very personal events in life. Both of which are events that should not be experienced alone, but with the support and presence of the patient’s family and friends.”

Priority Law provides elder law services to prepare for aging.

The article was originally published in the Lowell Sun and is for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.