GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - With the holidays looming, many families will be faced with the reality that one or more of their loved ones might be more comfortable, and safer, if their living situation changed.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, making it a good time to think about your family's options when it comes to caring for your loved ones. When it comes to hospice, there are a lot of things people assume, or don't know.

To be eligible for hospice you must have a life expectancy of less than six months.

Hospice is a healthcare benefit included in Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurances. The Medicare hospice benefit is earned, and should be utilized as long as the person meets the guidelines.

So, what is covered? Medications, equipment, and the supplies necessary to ensure quality of life and symptom management are all included as well as hospice team members providing care for the patient. Those team members can include social workers, volunteers, physicians, hospice aides, spiritual caregivers, grief support caregivers, registered nurses, and complimentary therapists. Therapies provided could be things like massage therapy, acupuncture, essential oils, journaling, music therapy, acupressure, companionship, and pet visitors.

Hospice isn't a place, it's a philosophy of care that treats the mind, body, and spirit to make the most out of the time remaining. That means team members provide compassionate care that is focused on treating symptoms rather than curing a disease. Hospice care focuses on the whole person including physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Hospice care is provided by all kinds of different groups, from non-profits to businesses, and everything in between. Some are faith-based, and others are secular. You can access hospice services by directly contacting a hospice provider that is a good fit for you and your family, or by asking your physician. However, make sure to do your research before making your decision. Make sure it is the right fit. You can get some help with that research from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. You can also contact Porter Hills.

Mackenzie is a producer at 13 ON YOUR SIDE.

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