First-time Caregiver? You're Not Alone and Hospice Can Help

Taking care of someone who is seriously ill or facing a life-limiting illness can be intimidating, tiring and sometimes frustrating. But your role as a first-time caregiver can also be rewarding if you:

  • Lean on your hospice team for support, education and hospice-specific care

  • Follow the advice and suggestions of experienced caregivers

Nearly 40 percent of Americans are providing long-term care to an older family member or friend, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center’s Long-Term Caregiving Poll.1 Caregivers include 59 percent women, 41 percent men, with older caregivers likely to be caring for a parent or spouse, and those under 40 likely to be caring for a grandparent or friend.

Hospice supports patients and their first-time caregivers

If your loved one has a life-limiting illness that qualifies for hospice care, start by calling VITAS to explore the home-based services and benefits that are available to first-time caregivers. Resources range from weekly visits from members of a VITAS hospice medical team (physician, nurse, aide) to home delivery of equipment, supplies and medications related to your loved one’s diagnosis. Most hospice care is provided at home, wherever your loved one calls home.

Explore Medicare benefits for hospice care

The costs of hospice care are fully covered for hospice-eligible patients by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans. Talk to your love one’s doctor about the requirements for a hospice referral, knowing that primary-care physicians can remain involved in your loved one’s care even after they are receiving hospice services.

The goal of hospice care is to relieve the burden on your terminally ill loved one by addressing pain, managing symptoms and supporting quality of life at the end of life. Hospice also supports caregivers by providing access to a hospice chaplain, social worker, volunteer and bereavement support up to 13 months after a loved one’s death.

The national caregiving poll found that prayer and meditation were common sources of comfort and coping for caregivers, and other strategies and tips from experienced caregivers can help first-time caregivers avoid caregiver burnout.

Just remember that if you’re a first-time caregiver, you’re not alone.

1Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. June-July 2018 poll of 1,024 U.S. adults. https://www.longtermcarepoll.org/long-term-caregiving-the-true-costs-of-caring-for-aging-adults/

Find out if hospice care could help your loved one.

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