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Try a new way of thinking about both hospice and medical alert systems, urged Riverside Health’s Cynthia Barrack and Pam Taylor. At Triad’s May 26 meeting, Cynthia said hospice is not about doing nothing, or quitting, or giving up hope; it’s about redefining hope. Talking about Riverside Alert, a medical alert system, Pam also focused on hope, but from a different angle. Hope – as in, hoping you won’t fall or that you’ll be found if you do – is not a safety plan, she said. Consider Riverside Alert as a key part of your (or your loved one’s) safety plan.
The hope that hospice offers, said Cynthia, is “hope for comfort and family time, freedom from pain, quality of life and dignity, and being able to expire where you want to be.” Hospice is under-used because people are afraid of the word, and often miss out on its benefits because they wait until too late to take advantage of it.
For someone facing a life-limiting illness – whether it’s cancer, AIDS, liver disease, a severe stroke, congestive heart failure, COPD or other condition – hospice may be recommended if the physician thinks a person has six months or less to live. But people aren’t discharged automatically after six months, she said. Some have stayed with hospice for two years; others are discharged because the extra care helps them improve substantially.
Benefits. The cost of hospice care is typically covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or most commercial insurance policies. It provides all supplies, durable medical equipment and medications related to the end-stage disease. Riverside is a non-profit, and through its Foundation, can help offset costs of other medications not related to end-stage disease.
Care team. A care team, which meets weekly, includes nurse and aides, spiritual counselor, bereavement counselor, social worker, chaplain, medical director and volunteers So it’s not just about your medical care; it’s about you as a whole person, and your family as well. For the family, the hospice team offers preparation for the symptoms they’ll see. There’s also respite care, or admission to a medical facility in order to get pain or other difficult symptoms under control. Plus bereavement support after the family member’s death.
Volunteers. Volunteers play a huge role in hospice, Cynthia said, and she encouraged Triad members to consider volunteering. Volunteers received eight hours of training, and can help provide companion care for patients, offer short respites for caregivers, or fulfill any number of administrative functions.
To learn more about hospice or to volunteer, call 1-888-594-5600 or go to www.riversideonline.com.
Riverside Alert, Medication Dispensing
Many see a medical alert device as sign of advancing age, but really it’s about safety and being able to get help when you need it, Pam said. Unfortunately, most people don’t think they need it until calamity strikes, and they’re lying on the floor. Besides being able to summon help if you’re in medical trouble, the Riverside Alert has a call button that quickly reaches the hospital system’s 24-hour nurse line, which can offer advice or reassurance at off hours, and can also connect you to community resources – even a hairdresser who will make home visits, she said. The basic service is $40/month, $29.99 if payments are made automatically.
Medication “Alarm Clock.” The Medication Dispensing Service is like your alarm clock, reminding you at the right time and delivering the right doses of each medication at that time, Pam said. Then it locks, so you can’t take another dose before it’s time. The dispenser can hold a month’s supply of medicines, and caregivers can be trained to fill it, or it can be filled by a health professional. It can help people stay at home for 2-3 years longer than they might without it, she said. Cost is about $70/month.
To learn more, call Riverside In-Home Technology at 1-877-287-6061 or go to www.riversideonline.com.