If you are caring for a veteran who is terminally ill or nearing the end of 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 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 below about the benefits of hospice care for veterans and find answers to common concerns.
The Benefits of Hospice Care for Veterans
Hospice care is a type of specialized care that focuses on attending to patients’ holistic needs (spiritual, emotional, social, psychological, etc.) rather than merely managing their physical symptoms. In this way, hospice care can improve 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 the primary caregivers and extended families as well, providing emotional support, instruction, and guidance when necessary. Other benefits hospice care for veterans provides include:
- Delivering individualized care plans that address medical and psychological issues common in veterans.
- A comprehensive care team comprised of physicians, nurses, hospice aides, social workers, spiritual professionals, and trained volunteers.
- 24-hour support system
- Medications, supplies, and equipment included, as applicable
- Complementary therapies, including massage and music therapy, where available
- 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, military veterans may be somewhat apprehensive about being admitted for hospice care. Fortunately, many hospice care programs are designed to attend to these concerns, and, in addition to the benefits, can provide individually tailored services and support for veterans to have the best quality of life possible. Read below for more common veteran concerns and how hospice care addresses these challenges.
Veterans commonly experience feelings of lethargy, sadness, and hopelessness as they advance in age and navigate through their final years. While these feelings are often completely natural, sometimes these feelings can persist and become a significant problem for veterans. If not treated, prolonged feelings can lead to depression, which may cause noticeable changes in how they think, feel, and behave. Additionally, these feelings may lead to other emotional and physical symptoms. Fortunately, hospice care has the resources and knowledge to provide the empathetic support, care, and therapy veterans may need to adequately manage 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 irritation. Hospice care therapists and spiritual professionals 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.
Many veterans aged 65 and older suffer from depression which if not treated properly can often lead to suicide and suicidal thoughts. Moreover, because veterans often conceal their emotions, it may not appear evident that your loved one wants to harm themselves until it is too late. Hospice care professionals have been trained to identify the warning signs of depression and suicidal behaviors so that help and treatment can be provided sooner rather than later.
Many veterans worry they will not have sufficient financial means to pay for hospice care or access all the benefits they need. Similarly, many veteran families fear that paying for extended hospice care 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 the hospice care experience. After the death of their loved one, hospice care social workers 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 healthcare 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 terminal medical condition
- Have a life expectancy of fewer than six months (as certified by a doctor)
- The 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 a life expectancy of six months or less. Also be advised that Medicare does not cover hospice costs related to room and 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 healthcare 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, 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, may be eligible for charitable donations or other non-profit relief funds.
Speak to Traditions Health to Learn More
We hope this article has provided helpful information regarding the benefits of hospice care for our nation’s veterans. To learn more about hospice care for veterans, or to determine if it is a viable option for your loved one, contact Traditions Health. Our hospice care program provides comprehensive care for all veterans coping with a life-limiting illness. Find out how our compassionate, professional hospice care service teams and extensive network of volunteers can significantly improve the quality of life for your loved one and family.
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