Today the temperatures are in the upper 90’s so after my visit with dad I decided it would be an indoor day. I still have my long “To-Do” list that I have been slowly making my way through. The next item on my list was to call Hospice and get information.
Dad doesn’t actually need hospice at this time — this is just me being pro-active. He is in his mid-90’s with early Alzheimer’s disease but no chronic physical condition that would cause him to be “terminal”. I am just trying to get ahead of the curve on this one because things happened too fast when mom broke her hip.
Mom went from acute issues (broken hip) to serious organ failures to terminal condition and death within 3 weeks. See “the Emotional Toll of Caregiving“. This all happened out-of-state and I didn’t know where to turn for help. I promised myself that with dad I would be better prepared ahead of time. Therefore now I am trying to learn as much as I can about resources before I need them.
I discussed this with a friend last week. She used to work for Eldersource and gave me phone numbers for Lifespan and Eldersource. She also told me to telephone his insurance company to find out if they cover hospice and if they limit which providers he would use.
First I called Lifespan. I spoke with a woman who explained to me that Lifespan doesn’t actually do Hospice. What they actually do is refer people to the proper organizations for their needs. She then referred me to Eldersource and connected me directly.
The lady at Eldersource answered some of my questions. I asked who actually provides hospice service in this area and she said she would send me a list of hospice providers and some brochures about hospice.
Now when I get her list I will call the agencies listed. My goal is to visit at least one hospice provider and maybe more. I want to find out where one gets hospice services. I prefer to find a stand-alone hospice and not have to work with a nursing home. I felt “turned off” but the nursing home dad was in last fall and I would very much like to avoid having him go back into a nursing home if I have any control over it.
Instead I want to keep him in his assisted living facility until he is too sick to stay there and then go to a hospice situation. (His Assisted Living Facility doesn’t allow hospice to take place there because they don’t have nurses around the clock like a nursing home would.)
His physician has told me she considers this to be unrealistic and that he would probably need to go to a nursing home in the future. But I am stubborn, so will try to do things my way!
I next tried to get information about dad’s health insurance. I spent awhile trying to get on their web page without success. Finally I telephoned his benefits office and I learned the web address had changed, as had his login information. The woman was patient and walked me through creating a new web ID for dad and a new password. We had to select 5 security questions and choose answers and then I could look up his insurance information. This all took quite awhile but eventually I got to the listing of his insurance benefits.
I asked about hospice because I didn’t see it listed. Turns out it was on the very last page that they pay 80% of the cost and the remaining 20% counts towards his “out-of-pocket” expense. After he spends $1500 out-of-pocket in a year, they would pick up the rest.
The insurance doesn’t limit which facilities are covered as long as they accept Medicare assignment. I don’t know if that is true of all Medicare eligible people or only those who haven’t chosen “Advantage” plans which often limit which doctors or hospitals one can use.
Anyway, I feel that dad would have the insurance coverage he needs for hospice if he were to enter one. The issue will come down to whether he meets hospice criteria at the time of the next crisis. I don’t want to push him towards “end of life” issues if he doesn’t need to worry about them now. I am just trying to be prepared for the future. Dad is doing well for a man his age and mental condition. I would like it to stay that way forever, but I know sooner or later we will hit another medical crisis. I just hope to be prepared when the time comes.