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Hospice Care for Lung Cancer Patients

By Treven Pyles

Posted on July 05th, 2019

If you choose to receive hospice care, you will benefit from the assistance of a team which consists of multiple medical professionals, each focusing on a certain aspect of your life. They will ensure you fully live your last days of life under their supervision, surrounded by your family.

Hospice care, which is different from palliative care, refers to receiving medical, psychological and spiritual support as a terminally ill lung cancer patient whose doctor estimated that you have approximately 6 more months to live due to the severity of your disease. Nevertheless, getting hospice care does not mean your life will necessarily end, as cancer may enter remission in certain cases. Therefore, you and your family should not lose hope if you need hospice care. Additionally, hospice care also provides support to your family members and teaches them how to handle your difficult situation. You should keep in mind that hospice care aims at treating the symptoms of your disease rather than the illness itself. A team of medical professionals will work together to make sure you benefit from quality treatment and will strive to make sure your last days will be spent with dignity and comfortably in the company of your loved ones.

The criteria you have to meet in order to receive hospice care are the following:

  • your doctor estimates that you have 6 months or less to live
  • your lung cancer has reached a very advanced stage where it can no longer be treated or has metastasized
  • you would like to remain out of the hospital if the disease gets worse
  • you require more help with daily tasks
  • you suffer from two co-occurring diseases which may shorten your life even more, such as lung cancer and COPD
  • you noticed a considerable weight loss as a consequence of your disease

However, you only have to meet the first two requirements in order to be eligible for hospice care, namely to have terminal lung cancer which gives you 6 months or less to live.

What Does Hospice Care Involve?

If you choose to receive hospice care, you will benefit from the assistance of a team which consists of multiple medical professionals, each focusing on a certain aspect of your life. They will ensure you fully live your last days of life under their supervision, surrounded by your family.

The services you and your family will enjoy while in hospice care may include:

  • nurse visits at your home for checkups
  • medical professionals to help with bathing and other daily tasks
  • equipment you may need to feel comfortable, such as a hospital bed, oxygen, a walker or a wheelchair
  • social work
  • spiritual support
  • medications to alleviate your pain
  • physical therapy
  • nutrition therapy
  • psychological counseling
  • massage
  • art or music therapy
  • support for family members in providing you care and grieving in the unfortunate case you pass away

You will receive these services at home or in a special hospice center, depending on your preference. The aim of hospice care is to make you feel better when a cure for lung cancer is no longer available. Moreover, hospice care will also allow you to spend less time in hospital and more time with your family members and loved ones. You will also feel much better when you no longer receive harsh cancer treatment such as chemotherapy. It is also noteworthy that people in hospice care often live longer than those who receive treatment, as there are no bothersome side-effects to be experienced. While in hospice care, a professional will be available 24/7 to take care of your needs.

If you choose to receive hospice care at home, one of your family members will become your primary caregiver, while the medical team will help with medication, daily tasks, therapy and emotional support. Your primary caregiver will be part of the medical team and will provide most of the help you need. They will also keep records of your symptoms and other problems, as well as share the physical care responsibilities with other family members or hired caregivers. Furthermore, they will be responsible for communicating with the hospice team.

On the other hand, if you want to receive hospice care at a special medical center, you will only have professionals to take care of your health and needs, but your family will be able to visit you any time. However, your family will also be involved in providing you healthcare. The primary caregiver attends meetings, communicates your needs and makes decisions on your behalf, with your consent.

Your hospice care team will include:

  • doctors who supervise your care
  • nurses and home health aides
  • social workers and counselors
  • chaplains for spiritual help and advice
  • therapists, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists and rehabilitation therapists
  • dietitians to help with nutrition
  • volunteers who are trained to give hospice care

The hospice care team is kind. They are good listeners, communicate well and are also specially trained to deal with issues surrounding death and dying.

The Difference Between Hospice Care and Palliative Care

Palliative care is not the same as hospice care. There are several differences between the two, such as:

  • While hospice care is provided to people during the end of their life and does not include standard lung cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, palliative care can be received along with traditional methods of treating the disease (radiation therapy, immunotherapy etc.).
  • Unlike hospice care, which is offered only to terminally ill patients, palliative care can be received during any stage of lung cancer.
  • The hospice care team coordinates the majority of the needs of the patient and also communicates with the patient's medical care team, whereas the palliative care team is separate from the patient's medical care team.

How Much Does Hospice Care Cost?

Medicare and Medicaid are government programs which pay for hospice care. Additionally, private insurance plans may help cover the cost of hospice care. Every state has Medicaid available for people who need financial help for medical expenses. You can find information in this regard from local state welfare offices, state public health departments, state social services agencies or the state Medicaid office. If, however, you do not have insurance, there are still resources you can use to pay for your hospice care, such as hospice organizations which offer help free of charge or at a reduced rate based on your ability to pay. They can often do this because of donations or grants.

Nevertheless, the cost of hospice care is approximately $266 per day.

If you are a lung cancer patient whose disease stems from occupational asbestos exposure, you can obtain financial compensation from asbestos trust funds by filing a claim with the help of a specialized lawyer. The process is easy and requires no litigation. You can apply to one or multiple asbestos trust funds, depending on how many employers exposed you to asbestos on the job. Please do not hesitate to contact Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. and we will strive to obtain the maximum amount of money you are eligible for. The compensation will also help you cover the cost of hospice care if you struggle in this respect.

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