FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
I know hospice is an option for someone in my family who has a terminal diagnosis. Can someone help us decide if it’s the best thing to do?
“The decision to enter hospice care is made by the patient with his or her doctor. You may want to talk with a hospice nurse and social worker in order to understand how hospice care works. Hospice team members are highly sensitive to the concerns of the patient and family.”
— Kay Decherd, past director of Hospice of Avery County.
If I think Hospice is right for me, when should I speak with someone?
“The sooner a patient with a terminal diagnosis not receiving curative measures initiates hospice services the better. Statistics show that patients who receive hospice services live longer than patients not receiving hospice support; this is because patients receive better pain and symptom management. Hospice provides a caring team of individuals trained in symptom management and end-of-life care, providing support not only for the patient but for the family as well.”
— Carol Smith, director of nursing, Medi Home Hospice.
I think Medicare and Medicaid are impossible to understand. Can anyone break down what’s available for us in plain language?
“I can certainly understand your confusion and there are proposed changes included in health care reform. At this time, however, Medicare is a health insurance program for people 65 or older, some disabled people under 65, and people of all ages with end-stage renal disease. Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income individuals and families who meet income, reserve, and residency requirements. If you have questions regarding these two programs or need clarification, you should contact Avery County Department of Social Services at 733-8230 and ask for the Income Maintenance Supervisor.”
— Marie Gwyn, APPEL Board Member and former Director of Avery County Department of Social Services.
This whole thing is just scary and overwhelming. I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m all over the place. Who can I talk to about what I’m feeling? Where do I go for help?
“A terminal illness and end-of-life care is one of the most stressful events in anyone’s life. It’s crucially important to know that you do not have to face terminal illness alone. Evaluate, first, the personal resources and support you already have, as patient or caregiver. Friends, family, and oftentimes, church support is needed, as well as professional counsel from your physician.
“Hospice is always on hand with a caring team to assist individuals and families facing such a crisis. The team’s goal will be to assure quality of life for the family and patient and to offer assistance in making appropriate and wise decisions each step of the way.”
— Lonnie Barnes, chaplain, Medi Home Hospice
Can you recommend any books I might read to help my family and me?
“Many books are available related to grief and bereavement, coping, problem solving, and hope and healing. Adults, as well as children, can come to significant self-understanding through exploring literature. After reading and/or sharing materials, many report feeling validated in their own thoughts and feelings, gain insight into their own life situation, feel less alone and isolated in their experiences, and better able to express thoughts, ideas and feelings.”
— Carol Berns, Psy.D., F.T., psychologist, professor at Mayland Community College, APPEL board member.
I feel like I should be over my dad’s death but I’m not and I’m still feeling wiped out and confused. Why is it taking me so long to get past this?
“You don’t ‘get over’ your grief. The feeling of loss doesn’t completely disappear and you can expect some physical and emotional responses that are common to most bereaved people. Our society too often encourages people to move ‘move on’ after a death instead of experiencing and growing through the grief. To heal, you must give yourself permission to mourn. Surround yourself with people who are understanding and caring and, most of all, be patient with yourself. Waves of grief will continue to ebb and flow and will not completely disappear, but the pain of grief will soften and you can eventually move forward in your life without the presence of the person who has died.
One final thought: everyone’s grief journey is different and there is no timetable for grieving. The grief experience is very powerful, but so is your ability to help yourself heal and move toward a renewed sense of meaning and purpose.”
— Carolyn Quackenboss, medical social worker, Medi Home Hospice
My mother’s a U.S. Army veteran. Are there any VA benefits I can apply towards her care in hospice?
“Every case is unique. If a veteran is Medicare eligible the benefit will be paid by Part A in conjunction with the VA. If the veteran is not Medicare eligible the hospice social worker will work with the VA to explore what benefits are available.”
— Joy Pittman, office manager of Medi Home Hospice.
I find it so difficult to talk about what we are going through. How do I tell my family and friends about how we are getting along?
“A friend of mine bravely battled esophageal cancer for a long time, so he and his wife had time to carefully plan for his death. A friend offered to set up a free and easy website on caringbridge.org to keep interested friends and family informed about the last weeks of his life. The site can be treated like a journal and allows good words and difficult information to flow in both directions. Patient, caregivers, friends and family can stay connected with the latest developments.”
— Ann Baker, APPEL board member.