November is National Hospice Palliative Care Month which focuses on bringing awareness to hospice and palliative care in general. Each year, around 1.4 million are cared for by hospice and palliative care facilities. However, despite this number, many of the patients who need the care don’t often get it until very late into their illness. Due to this, November is used as a way for local hospice care facilities to reach out and educate the public on the importance of the care they provide.

The Importance of Hospice Care

Hospice care is a service that is available to those with 6 months or less to live. This service (Medicare Hospice Benefit) was established back in 1982, but is still not utilized as much as it could be. Hospice first began for suffering cancer patients near the end of their struggle. However, it’s now available and being used for patients with all types of ailments. Less than 20 years ago, statistics showed that only 23% of Medicare users were utilizing hospice. Current statistics show that although hospice is covered for the last 6 months of a patient’s life, most are admitted 13 days or less before they pass.

It’s hard to pinpoint just one or two reasons for why hospice and palliative care isn’t utilized more often. However, there have been a few suggestions as to why. For one, when it comes to certain ailments outside of cancer, it can be difficult to diagnose a time of passing. This makes it hard for doctors who have to refer patients to hospice, to make the right timing call. For issues such as dementia, there’s not a hard determining timeline like there is with cancer in order to know if the patient is actually eligible for hospice care. There a few others aspects that come into play, but that’s the main idea behind the lack of use when it comes to hospice.

Hospice care is important because it has highly trained medical workers that can keep the patient comfortable, pain free, relaxed, and socially stimulated for their last days. When family members are kept home, this can lead to high stress, a lack of proper care, and suffering for the patient. November Hospice Palliative Care Month exists to try and alleviate needless suffering and educate the public on the services they have access to. Many people are unaware of how hospice works, payment, etc. Medicare often covers those who are nearing the end of their life and there’s no need to wait it out because of money or being unsure.

This month, reach out and be educated about the options that exist for those needing care at the end of their life due to a debilitating disease. There’s no need for those last days to be grueling and drawn out for the family or the patient. There is proper care available to make the end a comfortable one for all involved.