If you are a caregiver caring for a veteran who is terminally ill or nearing the end of their life, hospice care can be a smart choice. Corresponding with remedial care, hospice care focuses on facilitating a patient’s quality of life rather than extending its length. This ensures that humane and compassionate care is given to people who need it most, assuring that they live fully and comfortably throughout the final stages of life. Read more about the benefits of hospice care for veterans and find answers to common concerns in this short guide.
The Benefits Of Hospice Care For Veterans
Hospice care is a type of specialized that focuses on attending to patients holistic needs (spiritual, emotional, social, psychological, etc.) rather than merely mending their physical symptoms. In this way, hospice care can improve their quality of life in a variety of ways in addition to managing the stress and symptoms of their condition. It can also meet the needs of their primary caregivers and extended families’ as well, providing emotional support, instruction, and guidance when necessary. Other benefits hospice care for veterans provide include:
- Delivering individualized care plans that address medical and psychological issues common in veterans.
- A comprehensive hospice care team comprised of physicians, nurses, hospice aides, social workers, chaplains and trained volunteers.
- 24-hour support system
- Medications, supplies and equipment included
- Complementary therapies, including massage and music therapy-
- Assistance in identifying and securing military benefits, pensions and community resources
- Assistance with military funeral and memorial planning
- Grief support for the veteran’s family
Considering the vast range of common symptoms related to serving in combat as well as monetary concerns, it’s only natural for military veterans to be more than a little apprehensive of being admitted for hospice care. Fortunately, many hospice care programs are designed to attend to these concerns above all else, and, in addition to the aforementioned benefits, can provide individually tailored services for veterans so that they have the full support necessary to have the best quality of life possible. Read more common veteran concerns and how hospice care addresses these challenges.
Veterans commonly experience feelings of lethargy, sadness and hopelessness as they get older and grapple with end of life. While these feelings are often completely natural, sometimes these feelings can persist and become a severe problem to veterans. If not treated, prolonged feelings can lead to depression, which can cause noticeable changes to how the think, feel and behave, and manifest in other emotional and physical symptoms. Fortunately hospice care has the resources and knowledge to provide the empathetic support, care and therapy that veterans may need to adequately overcome depression and despondency.
Trained in a culture of forbearance, many veterans often keep their feelings and emotional pain to themselves, which can cause traumatic memories or anxiety about things they witnessed to remain dormant in their minds for years. Unfortunately, facing the end of life can involuntarily reawaken or exasperate these memories, often causing distressing recollections, flashbacks, and nightmares, as well as difficulty sleeping and being easily irritated. Hospice care therapists and spiritual aids can help veterans explore post traumatic stress and other complex feelings and find a sense of liberation or acceptance from them that is appropriate for their situation.
Of veterans aged 65 and older, many suffer from depression that can often lead to suicide and suicidal thoughts if not treated properly. Moreover, because veterans often conceal their emotions, it may not appear evident that your loved one wants to hurt themselves until it’s too late. Hospice care professionals have been trained to spot the warning signs of depression and suicidal-behaviors so that help and treatment can be provided when it’s needed (not later).
Many veterans worry that they will not have sufficient financial means to pay for hospice care or access all the benefits that they need. Similarly many veteran families fear that paying for extended hospice will force them to take a significant cut from their savings, potentially bankrupting themselves in the process. Fortunately for both parties, Hospice services are often covered by a variety of providers including HLH through VA (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs), Tricare, Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance.
Hospice care social workers can also help veteran families with financial issues and financial assistance throughout their loved one’s hospice care experience. After the death of their loved one, they can also provide financial guidance and assistance with military funeral and memorial planning. Read more about the different types of hospice care for veterans coverage options below.
CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs)
CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs) is a health care program sponsored by the Veterans Administration (VA) that insures eligible beneficiaries of certain deceased or disabled veterans. It covers most medical expenses for veterans, including hospice care.
Tricare is a health care program that is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. Tricare provides health benefits and hospice care coverage for active military personnel and retirees, and their dependents.
Patients who meet the following eligibility requirements may be eligible for Medicare-sponsored hospice care:
- Are 65 years or older
- Diagnosed with a series medical condition
- Have less than six months to live (as certified by a doctor)
- Hospice provider is Medicare-approved
Medicare provides care for two 90-day periods in hospice, followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods. At the start of each period of care, a doctor must re-certify that the patient has six months or less to live. Also be advised that Medicare does not cover hospice costs related to Room & Board, Emergency Room costs, and prescription/treatment drugs for attempting to cure the illness.
Medicaid is a public-assistance program for low-income Americans of all ages. Once an individual is deemed eligible for Medicaid coverage, generally there are no, or only very small, monthly payments, co-pays or deductibles. The program pays almost the full amount for health and long-term care, provided the medical service supplier is Medicaid-certified.
Veterans who are not eligible for government-assisted health care programs, can also pay for hospice through private insurance companies as well, however, private health insurance plans vary widely in terms of overall coverage. Generally, however, if the policy includes hospice, end-of-life care or palliative care, it will usually cover most hospice care costs.
Individuals without private health insurance, and who are not covered by a government policy, must pay for end-of-life care themselves, however some hospice care can also be paid through charitable donations or other non-profit relief funds.
Speak to Harbor Light Hospice To Learn More
We hope this informative article has helped you better understand the role hospice care can have in caring for our nation’s veterans. To learn more about hospice care for veterans, or to see if it is a viable option for your loved one, contact Harbor Light Hospice today. Our hospice care program provides comprehensive care for all veterans coping with a life-limiting illness. Find out how our compassionate, professionals hospice care service teams and extensive network of volunteers can significantly improve the quality of life for your loved one and family.