When a senior in an assisted living facility’s health declines, it’s common to assume that they must move into a nursing home or a ‘hospice’ facility. However, this isn’t always the case. Many patients with a terminal illness would rather pass away in the comforts of their own home rather than in a nursing facility. And many of these seniors consider assisted living facilities as their home. Many families have lots of options when it comes to assisted living vs hospice care.
A survey shows that over one million seniors in the United States reside in assisted living facilities. For several years, these seniors have bonded and formed lasting relationships with fellow residents and staff.
The majority of assisted living facilities do not have an in-house hospice unit. Many of them work together with community-based hospice companies. Their residents are provided with end-of-life services when needed. One of the biggest issues families worry about when making the assisted living vs hospice decision is moving their loved one out of assisted living. We work with a lot of hospice companies in our assisted living and memory care homes. We’ve found there is no reason to move someone out of assisted living just because they go on hospice.
Assisted Living vs Hospice Care
Hospice care provides ‘palliative’ or comfort care – a type of care that aims to alleviate the pain and discomfort. Hospice is good when the patient’s illness is no longer suitable for treatment. The cost of hospice care is covered by Medicare and other private health insurance plans. There are many myths about Hospice, and we dispel some of them here.
If you think hospice care is all about providing medications, such as painkillers and sedatives, think again. It is so much more than just managing medication. Hospice care ensures that your loved one will continue to maintain a high quality of life as much as possible. The hospice team educates the senior’s caregivers on how to properly take care of the patient. It also provides both spiritual and emotional counseling and support to the senior and his/her loved ones. The main goal of hospice care is to give the senior an honorable and comfortable exit in life.
The most common misconception about hospice care is that it is a physical place where seniors go. While it’s true that there are hospice facilities, there are only a handful of them in any metro area. The hospice team is usually the one who visits the senior in their own home – wherever that may be. For seniors residing in assisted living, the assisted living building is their home. When considering having your loved one move back home for hospice care, make sure you understand that the hospice company will only be there 2-3 days per week. The hospice company expects the family to take care of the person the rest of the time. That means hiring another caregiver or having the family members provide the care. That’s why when you consider assisted living vs hospice care, it makes a lot of sense to leave the family member in assisted living. They can receive 24/7 care in a familiar environment while hospice provides their great service.
Check Your Local Laws
Most assisted living communities in the US are now able to provide hospice care to their residents during their stay in the community. The assisted living and hospice companies work together. They can fully enjoy the benefits of hospice care without having to transfer from one senior community to the other. However, the law in Idaho, Montana, Mississippi, and North Dakota states hospice care is separate from assisted living. Arizona allows Hospice care in any assisted living home such as ours.
Does the Resident need More Care?
Assisted living communities cannot fully guarantee that they are able to accommodate the senior up until their last days. It is common for terminally ill seniors to require a more complex medical care that an assisted living cannot provide. They may need to be moved to a nursing home or hospital. The level of care is important to think about when you consider assisted living vs hospice.
It has been said that when medicine can no longer provide a cure, assisted living and hospice team up to provide comfort, care, and assistance. The services will help your elderly loved one to maintain the best quality of life possible for them. The assisted living and hospice staff work together to create and plan the appropriate care for your loved one.
Another common misconception regarding hospice care is that it hastens death. However, studies show that patients under hospice care very often live longer than other people who are not receiving care. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding hospice, but in reality, it is a philosophy of care that only has your loved one’s best interests in mind.
Assisted Living vs Hospice Facilities
An assisted living facility is a senior living community for individuals who need minimal assistance when it comes to daily living and care. It helps seniors to remain independent in a safe and healthy environment while providing them with the assistance they need.
A lot of assisted living homes are advocates of the philosophy, ‘aging in place’. This means that the senior resident will receive care, one way or another, without having to leave the facility. Aging in place enables the residents to reside in their senior community of choice for as long as they want – from post-retirement and even to the end-of-life stage. This gives seniors a sense of security in their long-term care planning.
Assisted Living and Hospice Care: Working Together
Since an assisted living community is primarily for seniors who require minimal assistance, are these facilities able to accommodate residents approaching the end-of-life stage?
The Center for Excellence in Assisted Living says that in most cases, hospice care is available. Besides, hospice care was initially designed to be an in-home service with only the clinicians present. As mentioned, many assisted living homes’ staff work with hospice agencies to determine the type and level of care needed by the patient.
Hospice care providers visit seniors residing in assisted living homes who are terminally ill or at the end-of-life stage. The Assisted Living Federation of America states that approximately one-third of seniors in assisted living communities receive end-of-life care within the community.
When is hospice the right choice?
There are several factors caregivers or family members can look out for that indicate when hospice care is appropriate for your loved one. These include:
- Sudden or rapid unintentional weight loss
- More frequent trips to the emergency room or the doctor’s office
- An obvious decline in the senior’s physical and mental health status
- A decline in the senior’s level of mobility, requiring numerous interventions by the facility’s staff
- Requiring more assistance when it comes to daily activities or when the senior has become visibly weaker
- The senior chooses to stop any aggressive treatment options
- Underlying disease of the senior is rapidly progressing causing a new diagnosis
If you or the facility notice a steady decline in your loved one’s health or for seniors who are given a prognosis of six months or less, hospice care may be recommended by the facility or the senior’s medical team.
Hospice is a Tough Choice
The end-of-life process is never easy. It takes a toll on the senior and his/her loved ones. However, it is inevitable; which is why hospice care ensures that your loved one will pass away with dignity and honor they so rightly deserve. And remember that many people on Hospice become well enough to no longer need hospice. We have had multiple successes where our assisted living and hospice care teams have brought someone to the point where they no longer need hospice. That’s another reason we believe when families think of assisted living vs hospice care in a hospice facility, it makes sense to keep people in their assisted living.
A Paradise for Parents works with several reputable hospice companies to ensure that our residents receive appropriate care. If you want to know more about our homes and the type of services we provide, A Paradise for Parents staff and our resources can answer all your questions. Don’t hesitate to give us a call at (623) 295-9890 or email us at Hal@aparadiseforparents.com to know more about the services we offer. You can also fill out an online form located on our homepage. We’d be happy to assist you in your search for an assisted living facility for your loved one.