Why a Family Support System is Important for the Elderly

As people age, having a family support system is crucial for the elderly. A support system provides a social network, helps improve their loved one’s health, and can even extend their life compared to older adults without any friends or family. Let’s take a look at why a family support system is beneficial for the elderly.

A Direct Connection Between Family and Health

A United States Aging Survey found that 30 percent of seniors believe staying connected to family and friends is a main concern. The survey found that most seniors believe that maintaining relationships with family and friends is more important than having financial support. Aside from older adults’ views, studies have shown a direct connection between an older adult’s health and their relationship with family. Indeed, family is important for the elderly’s mental, physical, and social health.

What Are the Benefits of a Family Support System for the Elderly?

1. Longer Life Expectancy

When older adults maintain social connections with their family members, this can increase their life expectancy compared to those that are socially isolated. It may not be an obvious benefit, but a family’s presence can improve their overall health in their remaining years. This is also true for those with dementia.

2. Stronger Immune System

Older adults that have a family support system and regularly connect with others typically have stronger immune systems. This is a major benefit, especially since older adults tend to have weaker immune systems as they age. In turn, a healthier immune system will be better equipped to fight off illnesses that older adults come in contact with.

3. Better Mental Health

Another benefit for seniors that stay close with family is having improved mental health compared to those that aren’t close to loved ones. It’s important for older adults to socialize with their family and to be reminded that they are loved and valued. This can help seniors be less likely to suffer from mental illnesses like depression.

4. Better Brain Health

Older adults who stay socially connected also benefit from having higher levels of cognitive function. Studies have shown that those that enjoyed participating in social activities were more likely to have better memory and thinking skills. On the other hand, older adults that did not enjoy socializing experienced a decrease in their cognitive health.

5. A Family Support System

Like any family, the type of support and interactions change overtime. A parent that once supported and took care of their child will eventually have the roles reversed as the adult child cares for and supports the aging parent. This is a normal part of life. 

For many aging parents, financial support is necessary to receive the medical care required as they age. When their family is able to offer this support, this can melt away some of the stress that an older adult may feel. This is important, especially when stress can weaken an older adult's already weakened immune system. 

Additionally, emotional support is another major benefit of having a support system. It helps to have someone to talk to and listen to them about their good and bad days. This shows them that their family cares, which can have a positive impact on their outlook on life. 

Another type of support is to help older adults perform daily activities, such as cleaning their house, going shopping, or even cooking. If an older adult has a bigger family, the family can take turns helping the older adult out. These simple acts can make a big difference in helping seniors not feel alone.

6. Friendships Are Important Too

Since not every older adult has family near them, they can still benefit from social connections and support from old and new friends. Studies have shown that having strong social connections has a positive benefit to seniors’ health, whether that is with friends or family. 

If an older adult wants to make new friends, there are quite a few tips to achieve this great goal. Older adults can visit their local pool, volunteer at a local organization, take a community class for seniors, or join a gym. There are plenty of options to discover new friendships and stay connected with others. 

We hope this article was helpful, especially if you have an older adult in your life. A family support system isn’t just beneficial, it’s crucial for the elderly’s mental, physical, and emotional health and well-being. For those that do not have nearby family, a close group of friends can still provide the same benefits. Contact Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services today to learn more about our home care, hospice care, and palliative care designed to help your loved one’s achieve their highest quality of life in the place they love - their homes. 


Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that there are 76.4 million baby boomers in the United States. This group refers to Americans born from 1946 to 1964. Thanks to progress made in the medical field, more older adults are living longer. Since healthy living has countless benefits for older adults, it’s helpful to know some tips to adopt a healthier life. If you’re interested in learning how to live a higher quality of life, keep reading below.

1. Stop Smoking

If you are a smoker, this is the perfect time to quit for good. By quitting this addiction, you can reduce your risk for aging, cancer, heart failure, and strokes. Indeed, this will help improve your health and well-being. For men, smoking can cause erectile dysfunction as a result of atherosclerosis. It’s recommended to talk with your doctor about the best options to quit smoking. There are several options to quit, including medicine, nicotine patches and gum, and therapy.

2. Stay Active

On a daily basis, it’s important to exercise for at least 30 minutes. There are countless exercise ideas to help you maintain your balance, flexibility, and strength, as well as promote your cardiovascular health. By exercising, you will find it easier to maintain a healthy weight and improve your health and ability to sleep. Staying active will keep your body strong, which will help reduce your risk for falls. Exercising can also help you better manage stress, which will help you maintain your mental health.

3. Eat Healthy

Eating healthy is another way to promote a healthy lifestyle. The key is to eat a balanced diet on a consistent basis. A balanced diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and healthy fats. Like any diet, it’s important to eat the correct portions for your size, age, and health. By eating healthy and exercising, you can help prevent several illnesses, including heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes. For women, you can prevent osteoporosis by taking calcium and vitamin D supplements. 

4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Did you know that being overweight can increase your chance of getting diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure? You can maintain a healthier weight by eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis. To determine your ideal weight based on your height, use the Kaiser Permanente BMI (body mass index) calculator. To cut back on excess calories, it’s a good idea to replace sugary drinks with water, which is zero calories.

5. Reduce Your Fall Risks

Older adults can reduce their risk for falling by following some easy tips. This includes removing clutter and loose rugs from the home, using night lights in the hallways and bathrooms, keeping electrical cords stored away, and installing rails in bathrooms and staircases. Instead of walking barefoot, it’s better to wear supportive shoes that can better grip the flooring inside the home.  

6. Stay Up-to-Date on Immunizations and Doctor Appointments

For older adults, it is vital that they go to their yearly checkups at their local doctor’s office. This is a key tip to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as well as monitor for any potential health risks. At age 50, women should receive mammography screenings to check for breast cancer. Men should also be checked for prostate cancer. These are just a couple of the dozens of preventative screenings that older adults can receive to check for various health risks. 

As for immunizations, this is yet another important step that older adults can take to prevent serious health illnesses, such as shingles and the seasonal flu. For those that qualify, Medicare provides annual wellness visits, preventative screenings, and vaccinations to ensure that older patients can maintain their health.

7. Prevent Skin Cancer

During the aging process, skin becomes thinner and less elastic, as well as more dry and fragile. When older adults get injured, it takes longer for their cuts and bruises to fully heal. To help prevent skin cancer, it’s recommended that older adults wear SPF 30 or above sunscreen and limit their sun exposure. This will help reduce their exposure to ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer, as well as reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

8. Receive Regular Checkups from Your Audiologist, Dentist, and Optometrist 

Hearing loss is a common concern for people as they age. This is especially true for anyone that was exposed to extremely loud noises from work or an accident. By visiting an audiologist, an older adult can get their hearing checked. If they need a hearing aid, this can ensure that a person can hear properly. As you can imagine, being able to hear is very important - to hear people talking to you, your surroundings, and talk at an appropriate noise level for others to hear you (not whispering or screaming).

Believe it or not, an older adult can still maintain good oral health if they take care of their teeth. This includes brushing their teeth, flossing, eating healthy, drinking water, and visiting their dentist every 6 months for a cleaning appointment. 

As for vision, most adults start noticing that their vision begins to change around age 50. This may include a gradual decline in their ability to see small text or focus on objects up close. Common vision issues include cataracts and glaucoma, which an optometrist can check for at yearly vision appointments.

9. Reduce Your Stress Levels

To reduce stress levels, there are various techniques to try until you find something that works. Popular stress-busting ideas include drawing, exercising, gardening, listening to music, meditation, praying, reading, socializing with others, and writing. Once you find something that melts away the stress, you will find that it also helps improve your physical and mental health, as well as how you feel about yourself. Positive thinking is a great approach to improve your outlook on life. 

10. Do What You Love

As you age, you may find it challenging to do the things you used to love to do. However, you can still engage in fun activities that bring you joy and fulfillment in life. This will vary based on each person’s preferences and interests. Check out these fun ideas below for some inspiration to live each day fully.

  • Learn a new song
  • Get a pet
  • Go golfing
  • Join a community group (i.e. exercise, gardening, golfing, etc.)
  • Read a new book series
  • Start a mini garden
  • Visit a friend or family member
  • Write poetry

As you can see, there are several ways to adopt a healthier lifestyle. People are living longer than previous generations thanks to our advanced medicine and technology. We hope these 10 tips will help inspire you to take an active role in your health and achieve the highest quality of life possible. At Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services, we are dedicated to helping you make each day matter with our compassionate, expert care. Our professional team offers a wide range of services, including home care, hospice care, and palliative care. Call us at 800-999-9883 to find out about our referrals and admissions.


What You Can Do to Achieve Long-Term Health

As people age, it’s natural to want to know how they can achieve long-term health and wellness. While good genes can help set the stage for living longer, there are also things people can do to promote lasting health. From eating healthy to exercise, there are numerous ways to achieve healthier lives. Continue reading for Liberty’s top tips to obtain lasting health.

What Can Your Loved One Do to Achieve Long-Term Health?

As more research is done, the medical community has found that 70 percent of the physical differences and 50 percent of the intellectual differences between aging adults that are healthy and those that are not comes down to lifestyle choices. Let’s take a look at some tips that can help your loved one achieve lasting health as they age. 

Live With Purpose

Living a meaningful life has a positive impact on one's life, especially as they age. Most people are retired and no longer have children living with them. This can make many older adults feel like they aren’t needed as much. However, by engaging in meaningful activities on a regular basis, this can reduce mortality rates and improve their overall health. 

How can older adults live with purpose? 

  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter, church, or other non-profit organization.
  • For those that can’t leave home, consider making homemade crafts or treats for local schools.
  • Start a new routine that involves things they love to do, such as gardening, knitting, golfing, or walking a pet.

By living life with a purpose like volunteering, this can reduce the risk for hypertension and physical disabilities, as well as improve cognition and reduce mortality rates. Who knew volunteering had so many benefits for one’s health?

Stay Connected with Others

It’s no surprise that social isolation poses a serious risk to your loved one’s health. The list of health risks include cancer, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and even obesity. Studies have shown that seniors with strong social connections are less likely to show signs of dementia later in life. By staying connected to loved ones on a regular basis, aging adults can achieve long-term health. If your loved one is unable to visit their friends or family in person, they can still connect via video chats, phone calls, and online chat services. Social media is another great way to maintain close bonds with your loved one when in-person visits aren’t always possible.

Keep the Mind Sharp

Research continues to show that a healthy brain is essential for achieving better health. This involves more than just doing puzzles or playing chess. Indeed, a healthy diet, stress management, and regular physical activity all help a person’s brain stay healthy as they age. To keep their memory functioning, seniors can perform tasks that require active engagement and challenges. This includes learning a new skill, such as how to cook a new type of meal or build a birdhouse. 

Stay Active

A sedentary lifestyle poses numerous risks for chronic health conditions, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and stroke. If possible, it’s beneficial to perform at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This will significantly reduce a person’s risk for the serious health conditions mentioned above. Not convinced? Consider that people who live the longest come from cultures that live active lifestyles, including biking, hiking, swimming, and walking. As always, talk to your loved one's doctor about the best types of exercise for their health.

Feed the Soul

Aside from taking care of one's physical body, it’s also essential to feed the soul. Encourage your loved one to find an activity that helps them relax and get in touch with their spirituality. This can include praying, writing in a journal, meditating, painting, or gardening. By nourishing the spirit, it will reduce the risk for serious health risks, such as depression, diabetes, heart disease, and even suicide. 

Eat Healthy

A healthy, nutritional diet is essential for long-term health. Unfortunately, many older adults struggle to eat healthy, especially if they live on their own. Common obstacles that prevent them from eating well include challenges with cooking meals, lack of transportation, and a fixed budget. A poor diet can increase a person’s risk for getting sick due to a weakened immune system, falling, and not healing as quickly. The great news is that it’s not too late to make some better eating choices. This will improve their overall health and help them live longer.

We hope this article helped point out some tips to achieve better health. As people age, there are several tips they can follow to improve the quality of their lives, as well as obtain long-term health. No matter how old they are, it’s never too late to establish healthier lifestyle choices. This can also set an example for others around them, such as their children, grandchildren, and perhaps great grandchildren. Contact Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services today to learn about our expert, compassionate home care, hospice care, and palliative care. We have offices across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, so you can receive the care and support you deserve close to home.


What Is Durable Medical Equipment?

When it comes to medical terms, it can be confusing to keep up with all the health care terms. As you age, there is one term that you will likely hear more than once - durable medical equipment or DME. While this may sound self explanatory, DME is a specific medical term used by insurance companies like Medicare and Medicaid. Let’s take a look at what durable medical equipment is and why you may need it at some point. 

What Is Durable Medical Equipment (DME)?

Durable medical equipment (DME) refers to a specific medical term used by health insurance companies like Medicare, Medicaid, and private companies. DME is any medical device or supplies that are necessary for a person’s health, which can be used for a long-term basis. In general, seniors that have serious illnesses or mobility challenges need durable medical equipment more than other age groups.

To qualify as DME, the item must be:

  • Used mainly for a medical purpose
  • Ordered by a health provider
  • Used for a long-term basis of at least a few years (not a single use item like a band aid)
  • Used in the home
  • Only used by patients that have an illness, injury, or disability

What Are Some Examples of Durable Medical Equipment?

Some common examples of durable medical equipment for home use includes:

  • Bed equipment (i.e. bili lights or blankets, hospital beds, lift beds, or pressure mattresses)
  • Mobility assistive equipment (i.e. canes, crutches, scooters, walkers, and wheelchairs)
  • Kidney machines
  • Orthotics
  • Oxygen concentrators, monitors, and ventilator supplies
  • Personal care assistive equipment (i.e. shower chairs, commodes, and dressing aides)
  • Prostheses
  • Traction equipment

What DME Is Covered by Medicare?

Medicare Part B covers durable medical equipment if your medical provider orders it for home use. This is great news for those that are currently enrolled in Medicare and need DME to continue living at home independently. When requesting DME, it’s vital to make sure that your medical doctor and supplier are both enrolled in Medicare. If your doctor and supplier are enrolled, your equipment will not be covered by Medicare, which can lead to an expensive medical bill.

Examples of DME Covered by Medicare Part B:

  • Breathing equipment (i.e. CPAP devices, nebulizers and medications, and oxygen equipment and accessories)
  • Commode chairs
  • Continuous passive motion devices
  • Diabetes supplies (i.e. blood sugar meters and test strips, lacets, and lancing devices)
  • Hospital beds
  • Infusion pumps and supplies
  • Mobility assistive devices (i.e. canes, crutches, patient lifts, walkers, and wheelchairs)
  • Pressure-reducing support surfaces
  • Suction pumps
  • Traction equipment

What DME Is Covered by Medicaid?

Like any government insurance, Medicaid programs and coverage vary by state. If you need DME, it’s recommended that you contact your local Medicaid office to determine what is covered. Medicaid typically covers medical equipment that is both affordable and medically necessary for a patient. Some state Medicaid programs cover all of the cost for durable medical equipment, while others only pay for a portion of it.

If you are enrolled in Medicaid, you may be wondering what the process looks like for requesting DME. While the qualification process varies by state, here is a basic idea of what to expect. You will first receive a letter from your doctor that lists what you need. Then, you will choose a supplier enrolled in Medicaid and take your letter to them. Your supplier will fill out a prior approval (PA) application and send it to your state Medicaid office, who will either approve or deny the request. Any approved request will allow the supplier to send you the DME and bill your insurance. For denied requests, you will be mailed a letter explaining the reason and information for how to appeal the decision.

Aside from government funded insurance, patients also have the option to use private insurance to receive their DME. In general, most private insurance companies will cover some or all of durable medical equipment costs. Other options include the VA for veterans, self-pay, and non-profit assistance from local organizations. 

Now that we have discussed durable medical equipment, we hope you will be better informed about what this term means and what you need to know in case you or a loved one require DME to live safely at home. If you are looking for a high-quality home care, hospice care, and palliative care office, contact Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services today. We offer expert, compassionate care to locations across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.  


How to Help Seniors Stay Safe at Home

The Federal Housing Administration indicates that an estimated 90 percent of people would like to age at home. While seniors continue to age and live at home, it’s a good idea to follow some helpful tips to ensure they stay safe at home. Check out Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services’ tips below, which will help reduce the risk for falls, injuries, and costly hospital visits. After all, by avoiding injuries, this will help seniors maintain their independence in the comfort of their homes.

Tips to Help Seniors Stay Safe at Home

1. Remove Potential Trip Hazards

Certain types of household items are known trip hazards. This includes electrical cords, low furniture, ottomans, and rugs. By removing these items or keeping them out of the way, this can help reduce the risk of falls. If there are children or pets in the home, remember to pick up any loose items like toys. To create a safer area for your loved one to walk, consider installing a non-slip flooring or placing non-slip mats throughout the home. Electric outlets, cords, and wires can be covered to also help create a safer home environment.

2. Create Easy Seating Areas

As people age, it can be helpful to set up easily accessible seating throughout the house. Consider your loved one’s daily routine and what would be most useful. For example, you can set up a bench next to the front door to sit on while putting on their shoes. Additionally, you can add a shower bench to make it easier for them in the bathroom, as well as a chair or stool for cooking meals in the kitchen.

3. Install Grab Bars in Bathrooms

Did you know that the majority of falls in the home take place in a person’s bathroom? To help prevent in-home falls, consider installing a grab bar in your loved one’s shower. You can purchase these bars in hardware stores or online. The grab bars can be installed by a plumber, home safety specialist, or you, if you are handy with tools.

4. Evaluate the Home’s Doorway

If your loved one’s doorways are not flat, this can be a potential hazard for seniors. To address this safety concern, consider building an indoor ramp, flattening the entranceway, or adding handrails. Any of these suggestions will help your loved one maintain their balance as they enter and leave their home. 

5. Check Out the Outdoor Areas

This may be a potentially overlooked section, but it’s important that the outside of the home is safe and secure too. The path from the front door to the mailbox should be clear of dirt, rocks, and roots that could be a tripping hazard. Additionally, monitor the home’s driveway for cracks that can cause a fall. 

We hope you enjoyed this week’s article sharing some easy tips for keeping your loved one’s home safe and secure. By preventing falls, this will help seniors maintain their independence at home where they love to be the most. If you are looking for high-quality home care, hospice care, or palliative care for your loved one, contact Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services today. Our expert, compassionate team is dedicated to helping each patient and their family receive the care, support, and resources they need to maintain their independence and achieve the highest quality of life possible. 


How To Start the Conversation About Home Care

 

Do you have an aging parent? Do you worry about their health, happiness, and safety? If you answered yes to these questions, you are probably looking for tips to start the conversation about home care. It’s not easy to start this conversation, especially if it’s the first time you are approaching the subject with your parent. Keep reading for our tips on how to prepare for and have the conversation with your parent.

Prepare for the Conversation

Like anything, it’s important to do your research before discussing home care with your parent. This will help set you up for success as you will be informed about the options available to your loved one. While your parent will have the ultimate decisions about their life, staying educated will allow you to be as helpful as possible as they age.

  • Write a list of your concerns.

Ask yourself what you are worried about for your parent. This may include the parent not living in a safe home environment, having health issues, or struggling with activities of daily living (ADLs). Common ADLs include bathing, dressing, eating, grooming, and managing medications. It’s a good idea to ask other family members to share their concerns about your parent. Add this valuable information to your list.

  • Learn about your parent’s options.

Before you start this conversation, remember to do your research. Check out the home care options in your area and the services offered. It can be difficult to admit how much help your parent needs, but taking a look at the choices in your area is a good first step. Your parent may be concerned about receiving help during a pandemic, so it’s also a good idea to ask each facility about their policies towards the pandemic and safety in general.

  • Listen to their wants and needs about their living setting.

Remember that ultimately, your parent will make the decision about where and how they live. When they are able to live in a place where they are safe, healthy, and happy, this will have a significant impact on the quality of their life. Maintaining their independence will be a top priority among aging parents. By listening to their wants and needs, this will make the conversation go much more smoothly.

Have a Productive Conversation About Home Care

Now that you have prepared for the conversation, the next step is to have a conversation about senior living choices with your parent. The following tips can help you navigate this touchy subject in a way that is productive and empathetic to your loved one’s needs.

  • Start the conversation early.

Rather than waiting for a medical emergency, it’s recommended to have this important conversation as early as possible. This will give your loved one time to think about their options and make a decision without being rushed. After all, this is a life-altering choice that deserves some serious thought.

  • Talk in person.

If possible, it’s best to have this conversation in person. When this isn’t possible, the next best option is to have a video call, so you can see each other. This can make it easier to read your loved one’s emotions and facial expressions, which will determine when it’s time to take a break and continue the conversation at a later time. Choose a time when you are both calm and not distracted. This talk deserves you and your loved one’s full focus.

  • Listen to them.

During your conversation, actively listen to your parent’s concerns. It’s normal for them to feel worried about changing their living arrangements, depending on their health conditions. It’s essential that you recognize their feelings and ask questions, which will help you better understand their point of view. By doing this, this will show them that you care about them and respect their wishes.

  • Be empathetic.

Rather than feeling sorry for your aging parent, it’s better to be empathetic. Using a caring, calm voice and demeanor will show how much you care about your parent and that you understand their feelings they are having. It can be difficult to accept that they need help maintaining their independence either at home. By recognizing and listening to their concerns, this shows your parent that you care.

  • Keep the conversation going.

Since this is a big conversation, it makes sense that you will continue talking about this topic overtime. This can make it easier for your loved one to digest and take their time with figuring out the best choice for their health needs. 

  • Remember it’s their choice.

Always remember that it’s your parent’s choice as to where they live. In most cases, your parent will prefer to live at home, which is the place they know and love. As long as their doctor approves that they can still live safely at home, it’s best to respect your parent’s wishes. They will appreciate your support and care as they ease into the natural aging process.

We hope you found this week’s article helpful discussing our top tips for starting the conversation about home care with your parent. It may be challenging to get the conversation started, but it’s always better to do it before a medical emergency. This will give your parent time to consider their options and discuss with their doctor about the best choice for their needs. Contact Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services today to learn more about our home care services offered in NC, SC, and VA.


Why Patients Live Longer with Hospice Care

Even though millions of people receive hospice care every year, there are still several misconceptions about this type of end of life care for patients. Studies have shown that hospice patients tend to live longer compared to patients with similar health conditions that don’t receive hospice. The focus shifts from receiving curative treatments to embracing each day with loved ones, being as comfortable as possible, and easing through a natural stage of life. When patients choose hospice, they make a choice to improve the quality of their lives. Keep reading to find out why patients live longer with hospice care.

Hospice Care is At Home

Typically, hospice care is provided in a patient’s current living setting. This can be their  home, a loved one’s home, an assisted living facility, or a skilled nursing facility. When patients are surrounded by people and things they love, they feel much more comfortable, safe, and happy. Additionally, patients and their families can dictate their own schedules and rules, which is not possible in a very structured hospital environment. Indeed, hospitals must enforce rules about visiting hours, what can be brought, and how long visitors can stay. By receiving care at home, patients will be more relaxed knowing others can come over when they are feeling up to having company.

Comfort is a Top Priority

A top priority of hospice care is ensuring patients are as comfortable as possible. The hospice team will help patients better manage their pain and symptoms related to their serious illness. In turn, patients will find it easier to connect with their loved ones and embrace each day with the time they have left. 

Shift in Focus

When patients choose hospice, this means they are ready to stop receiving curative treatments for their serious illness or chronic condition. Since hospice is a choice, they can always stop this care and choose to start treatment again. The decision is always up to patients and their families. By shifting the focus from treatments to living the most comfortable life possible, patients will feel relief and a newfound energy. Indeed, patients will no longer have to worry about frequent trips to a clinic for treatment, as well as the aggressive medications with their unpleasant side effects. 

The patient’s hospice team will focus on helping them live as comfortably and for as long as possible. This essential team will also help create meaningful experiences for patients and families, which will help meet their emotional and spiritual needs. Patients will be able to share memories with those that matter most.

Connect with Loved Ones

For patients, having the love and support of their loved ones can be a powerful force for improving the quality of their life. Aside from patients, the hospice team provides support to patient’s caregivers in the home. When families and friends visit their loved one, they will find comfort in the care and support the patient is receiving.

Hospice care offers several benefits for patients and their families. While every person is different, many hospice patients tend to live longer than those that do not receive this care. It’s not surprising that patients do better at home, where they are comfortable and surrounded by the people, pets, and things they love dearly. This can be a motivation for them to embrace each day and do what matters most to them, whatever that may be. If you and your loved one are considering hospice care, contact Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services. Our expert hospice care is offered across NC, SC, and VA.


Common Myths About Hospice Care

In 2018, around 1.55 million Medicare beneficiaries received hospice care, a number that will continue to rise. Despite the fact that millions of people receive hospice, this is still a commonly misunderstood term. When people hear the word hospice, they may feel worried about their loved ones. It’s important to know that hospice provides quality end-of-life care that focuses on embracing each day, sharing time with loved ones, and easing through a natural stage of life as comfortably as possible. Let’s address some common myths associated with hospice and present the facts you need to know for you and your loved one.

Common Myths About Hospice

 

Myth #1: Choosing Hospice Means Giving Up

This is far from true. Hospice is all about helping patients ease through a natural stage of life and make each day matter. It’s about living life to the fullest with the time they have left. Various research over the years indicates that patients who receive hospice tend to live longer and have a better quality of life compared to patients that choose aggressive medical treatments or no treatment at all. Indeed, hospice is a choice to live as comfortably as possible and enjoy each day with friends and family.

Myth #2: Hospice is Too Expensive

Hospice is fully covered by Medicare and Medicaid, which provides unlimited hospice care for as long as the patient has a life-limiting illness. Most private health insurance companies also cover this type of care with little to no out-of-pocket expenses. This covers visits, medications, and supplies and equipment needed for the patient’s hospice diagnosis. 

Myth #3: Hospice Care is Only Offered At Hospitals

In general, most hospice care is offered wherever a patient calls home. By providing this essential care in the home, patients will feel more comfortable and relaxed compared to being in an unfamiliar setting like a hospital or hospice facility. Of course, hospice care is also offered at skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and hospitals.

Myth #4: Hospice Means You Lose Control

Once a patient qualifies and is admitted to hospice, they can choose to stop this care at any time. This gives the patient control over what they want regarding care and support. Examples of why a patient may stop hospice is because their condition has improved or they want to start receiving curative treatment instead. Patients can also choose to resume hospice care as long as they still have a life-limiting illness.

Myth #5: Hospice is Only For People with A Few Days or Weeks Left to Live

Hospice is for patients that have received a diagnosis from their doctor that they have six months or less left to live. Instead of seeing this as the end, patients and their families should view this as a special time to make each day matter and help the patient receive the best care possible. Hospice helps patients better manage their pain and symptoms related to their illness, as well as address their emotional and spiritual needs. This care can extend the patient’s projected life expectancy, which means more time spent with loved ones. Even when patients improve, they can still receive hospice for as long as they qualify.

Myth #6: Hospice Care Is Only For Cancer Patients 

Hospice care is not just for patients with a cancer diagnosis. Indeed, any patient with an estimated life expectancy of six months or less can qualify for hospice. Some of the most common reasons people receive hospice include:

  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer's / Dementia
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Stroke 
  • ALS

There are several myths about hospice care. Since hospice care offers so many benefits for patients and their loved ones, it’s crucial to understand the facts from the fiction. Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services is dedicated to providing compassionate care and support for a transition marked by dignity and meaning. Contact us today to learn more about our hospice care designed to help patients embrace each day, share time with loved ones, and experience life to the fullest without pain.


What You Need to Know About Five Wishes

Have you ever heard of Five Wishes? This is an advance directive created by Aging with Dignity, a non-profit U.S. based organization that advocates for the needs of seniors and those that care for them. The founder of this organization, Jim Towey, developed this advanced directive to ensure that people of all ages receive the treatment they want if they become seriously ill. Five Wishes is all about expressing a patient’s personal, emotional, spiritual, and medical wishes in clear, easy-to-understand terms. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about the Five Wishes program.

Why Should I Fill Out an Advance Directive?

If you become seriously ill, the Five Wishes advance directive allows you to express your wishes regarding important medical care decisions. It’s a common belief that your doctor or loved ones will know what you want, but this is far from true. Everyone is different and has their own wishes for how they are treated, what they do and do not want to happen to them, who will make healthcare decisions on behalf of you, and what you want to tell your family before you pass. Indeed, by completing this key document, you will help your doctor and family make the best decisions for you if the time comes. This also helps avoid family arguments about what decisions should be made for you. Five Wishes can give you and your family peace of mind that they will know what you want during a difficult time.

Is Five Wishes a Legal Document?

Yes, Five Wishes is a legal document written with the help of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging. This advanced directive meets the legal requirements of 44 states, but is used in all 50. A federal law requires health care providers to honor patients’ wishes as expressed in this document. 

Who Can Be My Healthcare Agent?

Anyone 18 or older can act as your healthcare agent in all states, except Colorado where the agent needs to be 21 or older. Your state may disqualify anyone from this role if there is a conflict of interest, such as your doctor. It’s recommended that you select someone that is trustworthy and reliable. It doesn’t have to be a family member as not everyone has a living family member or someone that will fully carry out your wishes. Indeed, a healthcare agent can be a spouse, adult child, close friend, or mentor. While some people choose to select multiple people to act as your agent, it’s best to choose one person. If you choose more than one person, ensure that there are clear wishes about who gets the final say if no one can agree on your healthcare decisions.

When Does Five Wishes Take Effect?

This advance directive only takes effect when you are seriously ill and no longer able to communicate. The person you have chosen to be your healthcare agent will use your Five Wishes document to help convey your specific wishes about your care to your doctor. If you are still able to communicate, you can still make your own decisions about your care and will not need to use Five Wishes.

How Do I Complete a Five Wishes Advance Directive?

If you are completing a traditional paper advanced directive, follow these steps:

  • Review the document with your family
  • Follow the directions for signing the document in ink
  • Discuss the document with your healthcare agent and doctor
  • Keep a completed copy in an easy to find location, such as in your file cabinet
  • Share copies of the advanced directive with your family and doctor

If you are completing the advanced directive online, follow these steps:

  • Fill out the online version on your computer
  • Print out the completed document and share copies with your family and doctor

Can I Update My Five Wishes Document?

Yes, you can update your Five Wishes document at any time. It’s recommended that you review your document once a year, especially when you have experienced major life changes. This includes when you get married, have children, or become ill. After you update your document, it’s crucial that you inform your healthcare agent and doctor. Replace the old copies with the updated versions, which will ensure that your family and healthcare team will be aware of any changes made to Five Wishes.

Who Can Be My Witnesses?

In most states, certain people cannot serve as your witness to avoid having a conflict of interest. This includes a relative or beneficiary. Your witness does not have to understand or agree with your wishes. They only need to confirm that you are of sound mind when you sign your advanced directive. 

What Should I Do After Completing My Five Wishes Document?

After you have signed your Five Wishes and met all the requirements for your state, this important document should be stored somewhere easy to find. At home, this may be in your desk or bedroom nightstand drawer. The wallet card attached to the Five Wishes document should be signed and placed in your wallet. As recommended above, it’s a great idea to scan several copies for your family, healthcare agent, and doctors. This just makes it easier to access if you become seriously ill and the advanced directive is required.

As you can see, Five Wishes is an excellent way to convey your specific wishes about your health care. No one knows when serious illness or end-of-life will strike, which is why it’s important to take the steps to complete this form. At Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services, we encourage our patients and their families to learn about the Five Wishes program. Contact us today to learn more about this new type of living will, as well as our hospice services designed to help make each day matter with compassionate, expert care.


What Does a Home Health Aide Do?

At Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services, our home health aides provide valuable care and support to patients and their families. Home health aides play an essential role in helping patients live independently in their homes. If you or your loved one is considering home health care, it’s important to know what home health aides can do and how they can help you live as independently as possible. Let’s take a closer look at what home health aides do.

What Does a Home Health Aide Do?

Home health aides (HHA) help patients live independently at home by assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs). HHAs work with a wide variety of different patients from young adults to aging seniors. Aside from assisting with ADLs, home health aides receive advanced state-approved training and licensing that allows them to identify certain symptoms in their patients. By quickly recognizing undesirable symptoms, HHAs help their patients get the medical care they need to maintain their independence and achieve the best quality of life possible. 

Home Health Aide Duties

As part of a multidisciplinary individualized home care plan, home health aides provide specific personal care services, including assistance with activities of daily living:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Oral Care
  • Toileting

It’s important to note that these services are only offered when other skilled services are ordered by the patient’s physician. These skilled services may include nursing, therapy, or rehabilitation, all of which are offered through Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services.

Join Liberty’s Team as a Home Health Aide

Home health aides make a positive impact on patients and their family’s lives. With every visit, HHAs are doing their part to help patients maintain their independence and achieve the highest quality of life in the place they love, their homes. If you want a meaningful career that helps people every day, consider a home health aide career. Aside from the value you bring to others, Liberty HomeCare and Hospice Services also offers flexible scheduling, competitive compensation and benefit packages, a 401 (k) retirement plan, and much more.