Home Health Care News



A Valentine’s Day Your Senior Won’t Forget!

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a holiday reserved for couples. We would do well to remember our elders this time of year. For them, Valentine’s Day may be harder than ordinary days, especially if they are facing the loss of a loved one. The best thing to do is to try and set aside some time for them. Here are some ideas:

1. Plan an outing. If your beloved senior is physically able enough to get out of the house, taking them to dinner and/or a movie is a nice idea.

2. Make something. If you decide staying in sounds like a better idea, you could always plan to bake cookies or another type of sweet treat. If baking or cooking isn’t your forte, making a craft together is another nice idea. Then, they will have something to keep around that will remind them of you and how much they are loved.

3. Take the easy route. Order in pizza or grab some other type of carryout on your way over, and just spend time. Whether it’s just turning on the TV or a movie, or sitting around chatting, your senior will appreciate the time spent.

If you do not live close by but still want to do something special, ordering a nice floral or edible arrangement is one way to go. If neither of those are in the budget, you could always plan a time to Skype or FaceTime but, if your senior is not very technologically savvy, sending an old-fashioned card or letter might be the way to go. One way or another, your beloved senior will appreciate the extra attention this Valentine’s Day!


The Truth About Hospice – Myth No. 5:

Myth: Hospice means death is imminent.

Hospice care is a process that can be as unique as the individual.

Hospice care is generally for a person with a prognosis of six months or less to live. With Medicare, hospice care is given in benefit periods. Eligible persons can get hospice care for two 90-day periods, followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods. At the start of each period, the hospice medical doctor or other hospice doctor must certify the person is terminally ill so he or she can continue the hospice care.


The Truth About Hospice Care – Myth No. 4:

Hospice Care is more expensive

Studies have shown hospice care to be less expensive than conventional care during the last six months of life. Less high-cost technology is used, and family, friends and volunteers provide an estimated 90 percent of the day-to-day patient care at home.

Additionally, patients eligible for Medicare of Medicaid generally pay fewer out-of-pocket expenses related to their hospice care. Many private insurers also cover some or most hospice-related expenses.

According to Medicare.gov, people who meet all of the following conditions are eligible to receive hospice care benefits if:

  • The person is eligible for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance),
  • The person’s doctor certifies he or she is terminally ill and expected to have six months or less to live (recertification is required every six months),
  • The person accepts palliative care (for comfort) instead of care to cure his or her illness,
  • The person signs a statement choosing hospice care instead of routine Medicare-covered benefits for his or her illness.

Medicare Hospice Benefit

According to Medicare.gov, hospice benefits can include:

  • Doctor services
  • Nursing care
  • Medical equipment (like wheelchairs or walkers)
  • Medical supplies (like bandages and catheters)
  • Drugs for symptom control or pain relief (may need to pay a small co-payment)
  • Hospice aide and homemaker services
  • Physical and occupational therapy; speech-language pathology services*
  • Social worker services
  • Dietary counseling
  • Grief and loss counseling for the hospice patient and their family
  • Short-term inpatient care (for pain and symptom management)
  • Short-term respite care
  • Any other Medicare-covered services needed to manage pain and other symptoms related to the terminal illness, as recommended by the hospice team

*Costs of these services would fall under a per diem reimbursement. A hospice program may agree to a physical therapy or speech consult only, not a series or therapy sessions.

What Medicare Does Not Cover When Hospice Care Is Chosen:

  • Treatment intended to cure a terminal illness.
  • Prescription drugs to cure illness (rather than for symptom control or pain relief)
  • Care from any hospice provider that wasn’t set up by the hospice medical team.
  • Room and board. Medicare doesn’t cover room and board if hospice care is proved in the home, in a nursing home, or in a hospice inpatient facility.)
  • Care in an emergency room, inpatient facility care, or ambulance transportation, unless it’s either arranged by a hospice team or is unrelated to a terminal illness.

The Truth About Hospice – Myth No. 3

Hospice physicians work closely with the doctor of choice to determine a plan of care.  Someone on hospice need never lose a personal physician. However, that individual will typically gain a hospice provider as part of the care team. Sometimes family physicians prefer that patients work with hospice physicians.


The Truth About Hospice – Myth No. 2

Although family caregivers serve as the primary caregivers for their loved ones, you are never alone. You have an expert team to call upon when you need assistance.

A team approach can help families make the most of their time together. A hospice team typically includes the following members:

Physician – An ongoing role of the physician(s) generally is to manage the patient’s symptoms and pain. This involves regular evaluation of comfort and modification of medication as pain and other symptoms may increase.

Family Caregiver – The family caregiver(s) is at the center of the hospice team and the primary caregiver on the hospice team. Family caregivers typically provide care their loved one would receive while in the hospital or a hospice center; for example, bathing, toileting, grooming and assistance with eating. However, caregivers also can look to other members of the team for help and support.

Nurses – Nurses generally check in to make sure that the patient is comfortable and his or her physical needs are being met. Nurses on the core hospice team also educate family members, teaching them techniques for personal care and ways to help keep their loved one comfortable.

Social Workers – Once a family decides to use hospice care, social workers provide information and help coordinate community services such as additional home care or government benefits.

Chaplain – A chaplain provides spiritual support to the person on hospice and his/her family members.

Speech/Physical Therapist – While not part of the core hospice team, a person on hospice may need the assistance of a speech therapist to show him or her techniques to communicate with family members and caregivers. A physical therapist may help a hospice patient learn to move with a disability or a new device.

Hospice Volunteers – Volunteers help by providing the patient with support and companionship.

Hospice Staff -a hospice staff member, such as a home health aide, is available on an intermittent basis, usually one time a week, for assistance with tasks such as bathing.

 Professional Caregivers – Outside caregivers from in-home care companies are available to help as well. They can provide care directly, such as companionship, personal care, meal preparation and light housekeeping. They can also provide respite help if the family needs time away or has an outside commitment. A caregiver also can support the family by providing their loved one with assistance with laundry, medication reminders and errands.


The Truth about Hospice: Myth No. 1

In a nutshell, hospice is not always the last resort for the dying, and neither hastens nor postpones death. Instead, this concept of care affirms life and faces dying as a normal part of living. Its a holistic approach for families that creates a unique care plan with the individual and family caregiver at the center of attention.

Hospice not only provides an individual with medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support, but offers support for the family caregiver – who serves as the primary caregiver – throughout his or her loved one’s illness and typically for at least a year following that individual’s death.

Hospice care focuses on helping to improve the quality of life and helps an individual live with dignity during the time that is left. Its goal is to help people complete life’s journey with comfort, dignity and companionship. Symptom management is a major focus of hospice care. Relief and comfort are the goals when there is no definitive cure for the illness.

Statistics show that 80 percent of hospice care is provided in the patient’s home, family member’s home and in nursing homes. Inpatient hospice facilities are also sometimes available to assist with caregiving.

Even though the family caregiver is typically the main hospice provider; a team of professionals – led by a physician – work together to provide the best possible care and meet the needs of the patient and family.

In conjunction with hospice, you may hear the term palliative care. Some may use this care term interchangeably with hospice. However, hospice care and palliative care are not the same.


Palliative care can best be described as pain relieving or comfort care. People of any age can receive palliative care for serious illness whether it’s life-threatening, a chronic condition or a life-limiting illness. The goal of palliative care is to help improve symptoms, and relieve pain and stress from these conditions.

Palliative care aims to provide relief from pain, shortness of breath, nausea and other distressing symptoms. This care can be applied early in the course of illness, with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Palliative care can start at the diagnosis, and occur in addition to and simultaneously with care designed to cure or prolong life. Palliative care is primarily private pay and may be difficult to access in many areas or hospital settings. All hospice care is palliative, but not all palliative care is hospice care. The major difference between the two types of care is the prognosis of the illness and the goals of the person receiving the care.


Mary’s 80-year-old mother, Fran, hadn’t been feeling well for weeks. A trip to her family doctor and a series of tests pointed to an infected gallbladder. However, when doctors performed surgery to remove the gallbladder; they made another discovery. Surgeons found widespread cancer, and removed as much as they could. After surgery they gave Fran and her family the bad news. Understandably, Fran wanted to do everything to try to cure the cancer. At this point in her care, Fran’s goal was a cure. So Fran’s doctors needed to strike a balance between comfort and steps to help achieve a cure (hospitalizations, tests, office visits and interventions such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery). This approach is considered “curative” and “palliative.”

Four months later, Fran’s medical team concluded that further intervention had little to no chance of curing her cancer. Fran had reached a “tipping point” where the burdens of the approach outweighed any benefits. At this point, it made sense to Fran and her family to change their focus from the cure approach entirely to comfort, maximizing the quality and well-being of her remaining time. She was now ready to embrace the hospice philosophy.




The Truth About Hospice: Introduction

Let’s face it. Death is a difficult topic. No one wants to think about it. Few are willing to talk about it. But we’ll all deal with it, eventually. Many will go through the final days with an elderly parent, family member or friend. Some will need to manage the details from afar.

But end of life doesn’t need to be so daunting or depressing or dreaded. It can be full of life-affirming moments of compassionate care. Advance planning is key to making sure a loved one’s final days are as comfortable and organized as possible. However, even if you’ve already started down that road with a family member or friend, and don’t know where you’re headed, it’s not too late to get the information you need to help make smart decisions.

Among the most difficult aspects of hospice care are the pre-conceived ideas about end of life. There are many myths surrounding hospice. There’s also fear. Facing the truth on and taking action could be the best course for you and your family.

In this guide, we’ll address several of the myths about hospice, and hopefully give you or someone you’re caring for a clearer view of the road ahead.

Home Instead Senior Care is an in-home health care provider located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina serving individuals and families in the Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand area for over 11 years! We offer assistance to those in need for companionship, home help, personal care, short-term recovery, Alzheimer’s care, Respite care and many other services to make your life easier.

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p) 843. 357. 9777
f) 843. 357. 9779
11746 Hwy 17 Bypass, Suite B
Murrells Inlet, SC 29576