Using Hospice Services for Dying at Home

Preparing for end of life means coming to terms with the fact that death is part of living. How you die may not be something you decide but sometimes where you die is in your control. Hospice services can help. 

Hospice Care is a type of health care that serves to relieve pain without treating the cause for the pain. The focus of a hospice team is to provide medical, emotional, and spiritual support to families with a terminal patient – generally in their own home. 

Some of the benefits of hospice care are:

  • Ability to die at home
  • Pain management 
  • Help with ancillary medical needs 
  • Provide education
  • Offer emotional support 

Being able to be at home during the final days of life can be a helpful and comfortable thing for entire families. Being in familiar surroundings with loved ones, pets, and personal belongings can make transitioning easier than being isolated in a sterile and noisy environment like a hospital. Most everyone prefers the idea of being home rather than away when they die.

If you or a loved one has a terminal diagnosis, you are likely a candidate for palliative care and eventually hospice. Your medical provider can help you connect with a hospice team where you will create a plan and set goals for your experience. This may include things like:

  • Comfort needs
  • Direct care needs
  • Choices during transition
  • Direct support for emotional and spiritual needs 

Hospice isn’t just about direct care when you are actively dying. It begins with a terminal diagnosis. Palliative care – while not considered hospice care – is a form of treating pain and making plans before hospice takes over providing final care. You do not have to be bed ridden to get support. Your medical team will include palliative care as part of your treatment plan.  

As things progress your hospice nurse will provide assistance to you and your family to help make things less scary and as comfortable as possible. Knowing someone is there who can help and that you can be at home at such an important time makes such big difference in your peace of mind and comfort during this process. Even after you pass, your hospice support team will help your family contact your mortuary and help ready your remains for your pre-planned funeral process.  

Housing Options When You Can’t Live at Home

Everyone wants to live out their days in their own home. It’s painful to think about being placed in an assisted living or dying in a hospital. The thought of leaving behind the comforts of home and losing independence is overwhelming. Sometimes staying at home simply isn’t an option. 

The biggest reason for needing outside care is safety. 

As we age, we may lose mental capacity or simply become frail and unable to manage our independence. We become at risk for falling or other injuries, which makes it too risky to be a home. Sometimes a medical event requires therapies to bounce back and regain mobility or other skills. Isolation is also a concern. Being alone too much can affect social skills and mental health. Being in an environment with peers and activities can prolong and enrich life. 

If you or someone you love is showing the signs that they can no longer live at home, it might be time to consider options. Here are some common options for housing when you can’t live at home. 

Retirement communities- Some retirement communities are single-family homes in a condensed geographic area. Others are apartments or combined housing units with centralized services. These communities are geared towards an active lifestyle but rely on members being relatively independent. If you have been living in a large home with high-maintenance it might be a next step to downsize to a retirement community. 

Assisted living communities- An assisted living community offers more services than a retirement community. This may include providing meals in a central location as well as housekeeping and other services. Assisted living communities may assist in shopping, doctors’ appointments, or social activities off site. Generally, members of an assisted living community are ambulatory and able to make informed decisions about their care. They are able to come and go from the community of their own free will. 

Skilled nursing facilities- A skilled nursing facility is staffed by nurses and other staff members to assist residents with daily living activities. They are generally dependent on staff for assistance in multiple areas of self care including, but not limited to, medication management, access to health care and help with bathing, dressing, and accessing activities. Residents tend to live in community with one another inside one general space such as a room, shared room, or small studio-type apartment. 

Dementia care facilities- These facilities are designed with safety and compassion in mind. These types of facilities have a larger staff to resident ratio and most residents rely on staff for assistance with every area of life. From toileting to accessing food and medication, a dementia care facility is helpful for residents who need full care outside of their home. 

If the time comes that you can no longer be at home, there are multiple options to support you or someone you love. Research the types of communities in your area and make sure your finances and plans are geared towards funding the option that best suits your needs.  

Beneficiaries – Who, What, and How to Protect the Proceeds of an Insurance Policy

By Roz Jones

The purpose of an insurance policy is to protect against loss. In the case of life insurance or other health-related policies, there is a beneficiary other than yourself who will receive proceeds from your policy. 

For most policies, you will determine who the beneficiary(s) are and what percentage they receive if there is more than one. Some policies, such as those protecting business interests, may require partners or other stakeholders to be named as beneficiary. 

Did you know? Millions of dollars go unclaimed annually due to the fact beneficiaries are unaware they are named recipients of policies? 

When you choose to protect your assets and your family, naming a beneficiary entitles them to tax-free dollars to offset costs and provide income during their time of grief, loss, and transition. That’s a noble and important thing, but there are important steps that need to be put into place to insure they receive their proceeds. 

Step #1. Name a beneficiary and a successor beneficiary. Times change and naming a beneficiary should change with the times. If you name a beneficiary and you outlive them, you must make sure to change the beneficiary or have a named successor in place. Sometimes an adult will be named in lieu of a minor to protect and manage proceeds until a minor comes of age. Your insurance agent can help you decide who to name and your estate-planning attorney can make sure all the documentation is in place. 


Step #2. Keep policies with your will and trust. It won’t help anyone if they don’t know where to find your policy information. Keep your policy and the contact information for the company, your agent, and your attorney together so your family members can take action in the event of your death. 

Step #3. Tell your beneficiaries they are named. Perhaps you don’t want to alert people to the fact there are specific people named as beneficiary of your policy. It can be highly personal and might cause some waves; however, your beneficiary should be made aware that they are named so they know to take action and proceeds are claimed. At the very minimum, be certain your attorney or the executor of your estate is aware of who the beneficiaries are and where to find them. 


Step #4. Keep up to date records. Things change. Names and contact info may change over time. Be sure to keep your records up to date. Consider reviewing your policies and beneficiary contacts annually and note any changes so there is no interruption should you pass away. 

Being named a beneficiary is an honor and a wonderful gesture on your part. Preserving your plan to benefit others and provide after your death is easier when you follow these simple steps.  

Insurance – Planning Ahead for Optimal Choices

By Roz Jones

Depending on your career track and options, you may have a retirement plan in place that you have contributed to. This is an excellent way to save for the future and help guarantee income after retirement. Sometimes your retirement income is all you need to live life in the manner you are used to and sometimes… not so much. 

There are lots of ways to increase your savings and make investments that will add to your income down the line. Your financial planner will have lots of information about ways to save that help you avoid taxes and maximize income. Make an appointment and see what’s right for you. 

Another great way to save for the future and provide income in the case of an extended illness and/or death is through insurance products. Life insurance and other insurance products can provide income when you need it most and help safeguard your family in the event of your death. Here’s how: 

Life insurance- Life insurance can protect your assets and your family’s way of life in the event of your death. If you should die, you can provide enough money to pay off a mortgage and income for your widow to get back on their feet and move forward. 

Did you know? Life insurance isn’t just about insuring a working spouse. You can insure your children, which keeps them eligible for coverage when they become adults – regardless of their health history. This is a very big deal should your child suffer a childhood illness that might otherwise become a pre-existing condition. Consider purchasing a life-insurance policy for your child to guarantee they get coverage when they become an adult. 

Asset insurance- Insuring your assets, like your car, is mandatory. Generally, so is homeowners insurance. Did you know you can also insure big ticket items? Properly insuring your personal items can be very important against theft and loss. If you are a renter, you should also insure your contents and have coverage for liability in case something happens under your roof. Though asset insurance won’t generate retirement income, it is important to insure yourself against all forms of loss so you don’t face expenses unnecessarily later in life. 

Annuities- Annuities are an insurance product that offer tax-deferred income after you retire. While life insurance pays out after you die, annuities collect income and pay out before you die. This can create another income stream that is outside of your work-related retirement plans. 

Insurance riders- A rider is a policy extension that adds benefits or modifies an insurance policy to enhance or expand the benefit. Riders can provide excellent income for medical events or other unexpected needs that pop up as we grow older. They sometimes can make all the difference in the quality and quantity of care or income if there is an accident or illness. 

Insurance is often an excellent way to supplement retirement income and safeguard against unexpected illness, injury, or death. Being aware of what is available and investing wisely can be a great compliment to your investment portfolio.

Talking to Aging Parents About End-of-Life Matters

By Roz Jones

There comes a time when family roles switch. Traditionally, parents are the leaders of the family and make the decisions and set the tone for how things are done under their roof. As parents age, this can shift if there are medical or other issues at hand. 

Sometimes families have to switch up roles and adult children must step in to help parents make end of life decisions. This can be uncomfortable if there hasn’t been much discussion leading up to the role reversal. Still, talking to aging parents about end-of-life matters is always a good thing. 

Why? 

Talking about end-of-life matters preserves dignity- If your parents lived life well, they likely made the best choices they could under the circumstances and deserve to live out their lives in a dignified way. When adults become frail, they appear to be more like toddlers than thriving and vital adults. It’s easy to forget that they were once independent and able to care for their own needs. Talking about end-of-life expectations can help them preserve their dignity by respecting where they want to live, what boundaries they have on their medical care and day-to-day living, and their wishes about their death experience and how their remains and estate are managed. 

Talking about end-of-life matters eliminates confusion- The earlier you can speak with aging parents about the legal protections available for themselves and their estate, the easier things will be in their absence. Being open about advance directives, wills, trusts, and other important topics makes things easier for you if you are managing their care or estate. Don’t wait until your aging parent is too frail or ill to engage in a mature conversation to find out what they have taken care of and what vulnerabilities there may be. The sooner the better.  


Talking about end-of-life matters brings families together- There’s something about facing mortality that humbles people and helps them keep the main thing the main thing. Talking with your aging parents creates an opportunity to say things that you don’t wan to leave unsaid and to say thank you for all they have done to raise you, love you, and be there for you when you needed them so much. Many people hold onto life because they have regrets or fears. You can help your parents feel peace and love by having important conversations that bring healing and comfort. 

Talking to your parents about aging and end-of-life plans isn’t morbid. It’s a mature and necessary part of life. The sooner you can sort out what your parents expect, how they are going to manage their expectations, and what role you will play in the plan, the easier you can be prepared and ready when the time comes.