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Assisted Living and Hospice

Assisted living and hospice care allow mesothelioma patients to live as they choose while receiving nursing care and palliative support for the debilitating disease.

Both forms of assistance provide different types of help at various stages of illness. Assisted living provides personalize services based on the patient’s needs and abilities, ranging from medical support to housekeeping services. Hospice provides end-of-life medical aid to relieve pain, support dietary needs and bolster spiritual care.

Since many mesothelioma patients are diagnosed in the later stages of the disease, they often need assistance beyond what family members and friends can provide. Assisted living and hospice provide services that other providers cannot at a time when patients need it the most.

Assisted Living Services and Mesothelioma

The services at assisted living facilities vary widely based on the resident’s needs and the facilities offerings. Often, the term “assisted living” is used as an umbrella phrase to cover skilled (nursing) and custodial (non-skilled) care. The following are the types of living scenarios available for mesothelioma patients in various stages of the disease:

Skilled Care

Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), also called nursing homes, provide high levels of medical care. Long-term skilled care may be necessary for mesothelioma patients who need high levels of medical and personal care.

Under federal law, SNFs must provide 24-hour access to trained healthcare professionals, including registered nurses, therapist and physicians who supervise medical care. Skilled nursing care is also available in patient’s homes through home health care services.

Short-term facilities, often called rehab centers, provide care for patients from recovering illnesses, accidents or medical procedures, including cancer surgery.

Custodial care (non-skilled care)

Custodial care is more closely associated with assisted living because it provides nonmedical assistance. Residents utilizing custodial care typically live in apartment-style settings, either alone or with roommates, and receive daily basic assistance.

Types of assistance include help with bathing, dressing, toileting, cooking and cleaning. Providers are not required to be medical professionals, although it is helpful.

Non-skilled care is available in patient’s homes, called home health care services.

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Hospice Care and Mesothelioma

Hospice services are only available for patients who are terminally ill and have an expected survival time of six months or less. Hospice is focused on improving quality of life through humane and compassionate care.

Hospice care is not intended to hasten death. Instead hospice focuses on treating patients with dignity and respect through palliative or supportive care.

Hospice is intended to be a collaborative effort between patients, their loved ones and caregivers. No one is ever forced to stay in hospice care. Patients can exit hospice at any point to resume active treatment.

What to Expect from Hospice Care

The following services are common to all hospice settings:

  • Pain control – Also known as palliative care, pain control allows patients to live free of nausea, discomfort and other side effects from treatment and the disease process. The goal is to control the undesirable side effects of the disease as much as possible while ensuring patients are able to enjoy life as much as possible.
  • Inpatient or in-home care – Most hospice services are intended to be rendered in the patient’s home, but care can be provided in hospice facilities and hospitals as well. Some patients choose in-home care when beginning hospice services and later move to an inpatient hospice center.
  • Spiritual care – Hospice caretakers provide spiritual assistance and counseling as requested by the patient and family members. Spiritual care includes helping say good-bye to loved ones, preparation for religious ceremonies or rituals and religious and spiritual counseling. Spiritual care is not a hospice requirement.
  • Coordination of care – The hospice team is responsible for coordinating service between professionals who include doctors, pharmacists, clergy and funeral directors.
  • Respite care – Hospice allows primary caregivers to take a five-day break from caregiving, called respite care. In-home hospice patients are temporarily admitted into a Medicare-certified inpatient facility while caregivers get rest or attend to personal business.
  • Family meetings – Hospice nurses and social workers regularly hold family meetings to provide updates about the patient’s condition and medical expectations.
  • Bereavement care – Clergy members, trained hospice volunteers and professional counselors provide support for about a year after the patient dies. Services include phone calls, support groups and home visits.

Paying for Assisted Living and Hospice Care

Experts say medical expenditures in the final year of life for the average person costs at least $18,000. For patients with mesothelioma, the cost can be even higher. The following options are available to asbestos-cancer patients to pay for assisted living or hospice:

  • Medicare – The federal health care program Medicare pays for medical services provided in nursing homes or in-home, but does not pay for custodial care at all. To qualify for nursing home coverage through Medicare, patients must have been formally admitted to a hospital for at least three days prior. Medicare also pays for hospice support for those who qualify.
  • Private insurance – Long-term care insurance comes with annual premiums that can cost thousands of dollars, which may be out of reach for many people. The insurance lowers out-of-pocket costs for nursing homes and in-home care, but may also limit the total-dollar amount or number of years the policy will stay in effect. Since most long-term care insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions, mesothelioma patients must have purchased the policy before a diagnosis.
  • Asbestos trust funds – Mesothelioma trust funds were established as away to help asbestos-cancer patients with short- and long-term care, including skilled and non-skilled assistance. Dozens of asbestos trust funds were created after manufacturers continued to make and sell asbestos-filled products, despite the well-documented dangers. Those exposed to these products were never told about the dangers because the manufacturers chose profit over truth, honesty and loyalty to employees.
  • Mesothelioma lawsuits – Scores of asbestos-cancer patients have successfully filed legal claims against asbestos manufacturers due to corporate negligence and wrongful death. Mesothelioma lawsuits can take several months or longer to process, and there is no guarantee they will result in compensation.

Where to Turn for Help

Our qualified Patient Advocates put patients in touch with skilled mesothelioma attorneys to access funds to pay for medical care, assisted living and hospice care.

Contact us today to learn more about the free services we offer for mesothelioma patients and their families.

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