My 91-year-old mother, Evelyn, moved in with my husband and me after Dad died in 2010. Five years ago, she was diagnosed with dementia. After a recent fall that resulted in a broken leg, her health further declined and the doctor suggested hospice.
I can honestly say that Gilchrist has given me back my life. I feel strongly that more people need to hear exactly what hospice care can do, as I thought it was only for those close to dying. How wrong I was! Here are seven things I never knew about hospice before coming to Gilchrist.
- Medications and supplies are fully covered
Before enrolling in hospice, we were paying out of pocket for medication, copays and supplies. Now, everything related to her diagnosis is covered under the Medicare hospice benefit. That means we pay nothing for medication, supplies and visits from the hospice team. Our Gilchrist nurse takes care of ordering whatever is needed, and everything is delivered to our door—trips to the pharmacy are no longer required.
- We have an entire team focused on our care
Each week, Mom’s hospice doctor, nurse, social worker, aide and chaplain meet as a team to talk about her care. That means everyone on the team is sharing information with each other and discussing any care changes that may be needed.
- No more traveling to doctors’ appointments
Before, I had to worry about finding and paying for wheelchair transportation to take Mom to the doctor. Now, her medical team comes to my home instead. That alone is a huge burden off my shoulders.
- Hospice care lowers stress for caregivers
Gilchrist cares for the whole family. Seeing a loved one age and deal with health issues is very hard. Unfortunately, I was not always good at putting my needs first. Now I have a wonderful team to support me. My stress has lowered so much. Friends are even commenting about my more relaxed demeanor.
- Our nurse helps me understand what to expect
It is so reassuring to know that our nurse is just a call away. She has been my saving grace. She comes at least once a week. As she checks Mom, she tells me what to expect with my mom’s dementia—what is normal and what to observe for potential concerns. She helps me understand the progression of the disease and answers all my questions.
- Nursing support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
If Mom were to show any signs of needing urgent medical attention of any type, my first call would be to Gilchrist, not 911. Gilchrist has triage nurses manning the phone 24/7. The nurse will ask questions and then indicate if 911 is the appropriate action. If nonemergency medical attention is needed, Gilchrist will send a nurse within one to two hours. When I called the nurse line with a question, I felt I had caring arms holding me up.
- Hospice care can continue beyond six months
While entry into hospice requires a life expectancy of six months or less, I know that if I am lucky to have Mom longer, hospice will continue to be covered, if appropriate. My mom is living without discomfort at home with us instead of in a hospital or nursing home, and I have all the support I need to take care of her.
To learn more about Gilchrist Hospice Care, visit gilchristcares.org/hospice or call 1.888.823.8880.