Senior Connection

Nov 21, 2014

What is Hospice?

Hospice is a comprehensive program of interdisciplinary services designed to meet the unique needs of persons, who have a limited life expectancy, their families and loved ones.
Hospice offers a special kind of care that:
  • treats all aspects of the patient including their physical, emotional and spiritual needs;
  • offers the patient the choice to remain at home or reside in a home-like setting;
  • focuses on pain and symptom management;
  • recognizes the family to be an essential part of its mission; and
  • promotes the importance of and affirms the quality of life.
Who Pays for Hospice?

Hospice is a covered benefit under most health insurance plans, including HMO’s and other managed care organizations. Hospice is also a covered benefit of the Medicare (Part A) program and is covered by Medicaid (Mass Health) in the state of Massachusetts.

Who Makes Up the Hospice Team?

Hospice is made up of an interdisciplinary team that works to make a patient and their family as comfortable as possible during this time in the patient’s illness. The interdisciplinary team is compromised of the following people: Patient’s Physician and the Hospice Medical Director, Registered Nurse, Certified Nursing Assistants, Medical Social Worker, Pastoral Care, Bereavement Counselor, Speech Therapist, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Dietician, and Trained Volunteers.

Why Does Hospice Appeal to the Terminally Ill?

Hospice care is an answer when an individual’s life is threatened because of advance stages of an illness. Working with the patient’s family member and love ones, the hospice team helps them say good bye with comfort and dignity.

The care given in hospice is based on letting the patient experience the best quality of life in the comfort of the place they consider home until they breathe there last breath. Hospice care is an interdisciplinary approach to meet the needs- physical, psychological, and spiritual – of a person at the end of life.

Hospice also offers emotional, and bereavement support, to the family and love ones for up to a year or longer if requested.

How Can I Receive Hospice Care?

Anyone involved in the care of an individual in the final stages of life may make a referral to hospice—Physicians, Patients, Family Members, Care givers, Clergy.

For further information please contact:

Holy Trinity Hospice
Christine Mateer
Community Liaison

Nov 7, 2014

Family Caregiving—the First and Most Loving Care We Can Give

By Bob Dwyer, Executive Director -- CMAA

Many of the people who work in community services for older persons are not only professionals in our fields.  Oftentimes folks forget that we are people too!  And the fact is, we have family members, younger and older, for whom we help to provide care.  As a grandparent, I have had the experience of caring for our grandchildren, at different times and for different reasons.  As someone whose parents grew sick and frail, I helped my sister and brother care for our parents.  My sister certainly took the lead, but we were there to help her and my parents.

I have also been privileged to assist in the care of my wife’s, my in-laws, as they have aged.  My father in law passed over last winter.  And my mother in law has now moved into an assisted living facility in Maine near my wife’s family.

This move into a “facility” was not easy for my mother in law, nor for my wife and her siblings.  Yet, the attempt to care for her in their long time home was proving very difficult for all.  The house was old, and needed more than just updating.  Furnace issues, leaky roof, utility costs and rotting pipes—all in combination with a true degradation of my mother in laws conditions of severe arthritis, additional leg pain, depression and the beginning of dementia, was taking its toll on her and the family.  The caregiving role is difficult, particularly when the one you care for is a loved one.

Like many other older Americans, Glo didn’t want strangers in her home, and would not accept someone to help her with personal care.  She accepted meals on wheels, but reluctantly.  My wife Kathy’s siblings stopped in nearly daily, doing laundry, making sure the furnace was working, helping their Mom with her personal care, groceries, and housework.  Kathy called daily, spoke with doctors, and made the trip to Maine on a regular basis from our home in southern Worcester County.  All in all, it was too much for everyone to handle.  There remained the fear that Glo would fall and break a hip, or worse, using the few stairs she needed to use.

Moving Glo to assisted living was the solution.  None of us had a safe and appropriate home in which she could live.  Now, Glo is safe and secure, and though other of her conditions remains, her children understand that their caregiving takes on a different role of visiting, comforting and loving.

All too often when we think about “caregiving,” our thoughts turn to professional caregivers.  Our loved one’s care does not always take place in hospitals, or nursing homes, or doctor offices, or medical clinics. Most care actually occurs in the home – and that’s a good thing. People are healthier at home and health care costs are reduced. Family caregivers have the best interests of their loved ones at heart.  But caregiving at home can take its toll and it certainly takes a lot of planning. The Nation’s 90 million family caregivers are front and center in providing care every day – enabling their loved ones to stay at home longer where they are happier and healthier. 

• Most adults would prefer to age in place.  90% of adults over the age of 65 would prefer to stay in their current home as they age.  Family, friends, and neighbors provide 80% of the care for the elderly.

• Two out of every 5 adults are family caregivers.  39% of all adult Americans are caring for a loved one who is sick, disabled, or living with frailties of old age. That’s up from 30% in 2010.

• Family caregivers are the only people who are present with patients in all care settings.  Patients may have more than one doctor; nurses change shifts; prescriptions may be filled at different pharmacies. But family caregivers are there as full partners with their loved ones through it all.

• Complex care happens in the homeAlmost half of family caregivers perform sophisticated medical/nursing tasks for their loved ones – such as providing wound care and operating specialized medical equipment – and up to 70% manage medications for their loved ones.

• Caregiving affects the whole familyMen are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women are (37% of men; 40% of women). And even 36% of younger Americans between ages 18 and 29 say they are family caregivers!

• Many families make changes at home because of their caregiving responsibilities. Some families have to tighten their belts at home to pay for out-of-pocket caregiving costs (an average of $5,500 per year). And many more have to make home alterations to ensure safety, security, and cleanliness for their loved ones.

(**See Caregiver Action Network at  .)

Family caregivers are the front line of caregiving throughout the world.  Whether it is shoveling the walk, raking leaves, bringing your Dad to the doctor or your Mom to the grocery store, it’s all about the care and family.  In this month of November, we celebrate Family Caregiving, the first and most loving care we can offer.


To Enhance The Quality Of Life For Area Seniors And Their Caregivers, The Central Massachusetts Agency On Aging Will Provide Leadership, Information And Resources, Coordination Of Services And Advocacy.