What is Hospice?

iStock_000001461778_LargeThe end of life is a topic that makes most people uncomfortable.  It’s not something that we like to talk about, and the word “hospice” is just another word that most people associate with death. While it’s true that hospice is a type of treatment that is only for patients in their last months of life, there are some things that distinguish hospice from other care:

Hospice is about keeping patients and their families comfortable.  Hospice was created to provide an alternative to traditional hospital passing.  The focus is not on prolonging life at all costs.  Instead, hospice nurses and physicians aim to ease patient suffering and help family members cope.  Compared to a hospital, where patients often receive invasive and painful medical procedures in an effort to avoid death, hospice patients receive medication and care with the sole purpose of decreasing suffering.

Hospice and palliative care are similar, but not quite the same thing.  Palliative care is a type of medicine designed to help patients deal with any severe illness.  Hospice, on the other hand, is specifically for people who have had a terminal diagnosis.

Hospice requires physician certification.  Because hospice is only for patients who are in their last six months of life, you have to have a doctor’s permission to be admitted to a hospice program.  Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance cover hospice care in most cases. If you or a loved one are facing a terminal illness, talk to your physicians about how to manage pain, discomfort, and other problems.

Should I Take the Keys Away from my Parents?

Note: This post originally appeared at AlexisAbramson.com. If you’re interested in providing articles for SeniorHousingMove.com, please see our submission guidelines.

Alexis Abramson, PhD

Dr. Alexis

The Pew Research Center reminds us that 8,000 boomers are turning 65 every day for the next 16 years. By 2030, they’ll represent almost one in five drivers. Safe driving is an important issue for everyone — especially seniors! Although older drivers are at a higher risk of becoming involved in an automobile accident than younger drivers, not everyone is an “accident waiting to happen” — and in fact many seniors are better drivers than today’s young folks.

The United States has unfortunately created a culture where in most situations we are forced to drive, and we embrace it. We use our cars to get our basic necessities, participate in social events and “the automobile” is often considered to be the cornerstone of American independence. Most people would drive from their bed to the fridge if they could! I recently wrote a blog about livable communities that are specifically developed to reduce the amount of driving as we age by making public transportation, social activities, parks and recreation more convenient — hopefully this trend is on the rise as the graying of America becomes more imminent.

We all age at different rates and with different needs. This is important to keep in mind because periodically we must check for those symptoms and outside causes that may impact our loved one’s ability to drive safely. Seniors are more likely to receive traffic citations when it comes to small things such as failing to yield, turning improperly and running stop signs. These types of incidents may be early signs of decreased driving ability. Research tells us that automotive collisions become significantly more deadly after a driver has reached the age of 70. The good thing is that in today’s world there’s plenty of information to help better educate caregivers and their aging loved one’s so that we can hopefully avoid this problem.

If you feel you need to have a conversation about safe driving with an aging loved one it’s important to be delicate in your approach. The AAA online senior drivers quiz discusses common risk factors and instructs readers as to how to avoid potentially dangerous driving habits or behaviors — this is a good place to start. Here are some warning signs AARP considers to be the most important indicators as to when someone should begin to limit driving or stop driving all together.

  • Feeling uncomfortable and nervous or fearful while driving
  • Dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs etc.
  • Difficulty staying in the lane of travel
  • Getting lost
  • Trouble paying attention to signals, road signs and pavement markings
  • Slower response rates to unexpected situations
  • Medical conditions or medications that may be affecting the ability to handle the car safely
  • Frequent “close calls” (i.e. almost crashing)
  • Trouble judging gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway entrance/exit ramps
  • Other drivers honking at you and instances when you are angry at other drivers
  • Friends or relatives not wanting to drive with you
  • Difficulty seeing the sides of the road when looking straight ahead
  • Being easily distracted or having a hard time concentrating while driving
  • Difficulty turning around to check over your shoulder while backing up or changing lanes
  • Frequent traffic tickets or “warnings” by traffic or law enforcement officers

If some of these signs seem to be a concern for you or an aging loved one you might want to consider consulting a doctor or a professional in the field. Stay safe. Care for your safety and others.

Disclaimer:  Content and suggestions provided within should not be construed as a formal recommendation and AJA Associates, LLC makes no representations, endorsements or warranties relating to the accuracy, use or completeness of the information.

ALEXIS ABRAMSON, Ph.D. is cited as America’s leading, impassioned champion for the dignity and independence of those over 50. Abramson is the author of two 
highly acclaimed books – The Caregivers 
Survival Handbook and Home Safety for Seniors.  For more information go to www.alexisabramson.com.

Reading & dementia, when your parents die, Alzheimer’s, and visiting your parents

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Reading and writing can help ward off dementia in later life.

An interesting article about becoming an orphan (as an adult) after your parents die.

A touching story of Alzheimer’s disease.

There’s a law in China that you have to go visit your aging parents and grandparents.

Reading Glasses” © 2010 Martin, Attribution 3.0 Generic http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/