Medical Care That May be Valuable for You and Your Loved Ones

Disclaimer: Views expressed in Bob’s Blog belong solely to the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the CAC Office in Aging or its staff. 

There is one subject most of us don’t want to think about. That is death – our own. As a result, we never discuss it with our loved ones or families.

Another taboo subject is cancer or terminal illness. We don’t think about getting one of these. We also don’t talk about what will happen if we come down with one of these with our loved ones or family.

If there is any conversation at all, it is when we learn we or they have stage 3 or 4 cancer or another illness that has advanced to the point where it doesn’t look like there is any hope of recovery. Conversations at that time are very difficult.

If we’re the person with the condition, we don’t want to see our loved ones or family cry. If it’s a loved one or family member, we are afraid how the person with the condition may react. So, we never have a deep discussion about it..

Sadly, Not Much is Said –The Subject Never Comes up

When the cancer or terminal illness reaches the terminal stages, the amount of pain the person has increases. As the condition progresses, the amount of care they need increases and increases.

Loved ones and family members frequently wear themselves out trying to care for the person.  They don’t have opportunity nor the time to check to see if there is anyone or any place that can help them ease the person’s pain or relieve them of some of the work they are doing.

The Hospice Program

Most have never heard of the Hospice Program and are unaware of what the services this program provides.

Hospice is medical care provided to a person with a terminal illness. It helps them live as well as possible for as long as possible. Its focus is to help them maintain the quality of their life.

This is not a new program. Hospice care started in the United Sates in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Medicare started covering it in the 1980’s.

Hospice care is available to those people with a terminal illness.  They have been through all of the treatment options available to them and are approaching the end of their lives.

Hospice Care does not attempt to cure the person’s condition. Its objective is to help the person have the highest quality of life they can for the remainder of their life. It does this by focusing on reducing the pain the person is experiencing and caring for their physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs. It also provides support and counseling for family members.

The Hospice Team

Hospice Care is comprehensive. One or two people do not provide it. A team of medical professionals does. The team consists of

  • Doctors (the person’s primary doctor and the hospice doctor) to oversee the care the patient receives
  • Nurses and Home Health Ades to care for the patient
  • Spiritual Counselors (Pastors, Lay Ministers and Others) to provide spiritual care for the patient and their family
  • Social Workers to provide support and referral to any necessary support systems in the community
  • Pharmacists to deliver the medication to the patient and family in need
  • Volunteers to stay with the patient and allow family members some time away (They also can provide transportation and take care of other needs.)
  • Others necessary to take care of the patient’s and their family’s other needs
  • Bereavement Counselors to support the loved ones and family members after the death of the patient

An Overview of Hospice Care

Hospice care can start when a patient is expected to have 6 months or less to live. Their primary doctor must certify to this.

Most people prefer to receive Hospice Care in their homes. At times, the care can also be provided in a hospital, nursing home or assisted living center.

The amount of care the person receives at any given time is based on their condition. Initially, they may not need much care. Nurses and Home Health Aides may come in for short periods of time several times a week.

As the person’s condition deteriorates, the amount of care they receive increases. Immediately prior to death, the care may be around the clock.

If a person recovers and no longer need the care, it can stop. If they need Hospice Care again at a later date, the care can resume.

Medicare will pay for Hospice Care for 6 months. If the person requires hospice care beyond 6 months, Medicare will continue to pay provided the person’s primary doctor certifies the need for it.

Medicaid and private insurance also pay for hospice care. Medicare’s, Medicaid’s and Private Insurance payments are based on the coverage the person has. When looking at Hospice providers, it is best to check to see what the person or their family may have to pay for any of the services.

Several different hospitals and Medical Care providers offer Hospice Care in Knoxville and Knox County. You can find these by doing a Google search for Hospice Care in Knoxville.

When Should Families Discuss Hospice Care?

As mentioned earlier, it frequently is very difficult to talk about Hospice Care at the time a person is terminally ill. Conversations like this are best for an aging person, their loved ones and family to have far before that. The ideal time is when people are well.

At that time, it’s much easier to find out what an aging person may want if they do contract a terminal illness later in life.  They can review all of the options available and know what the aging person would want.

In that discussion, they could plan on the care necessary to make sure the person will have the highest quality of life with the least amount of pain possible.

They also can discuss the care each loved one and family member will provide and make sure none is overburdened in caring for the older person and handling their matters.


If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is