Archive for November 2015

Study Links Hospice Care To Reduced Depression Risk In Spouses

Posted on Nov 24, 2015

It's been widely accepted that patients receive a number of health and spiritual benefits from hospice care. Numerous studies have focused on the individual patient and the effect that hospice care typically has. There's been much less focus on the surviving family members and whether or not hospice care for their loved one has an effect on their well-being. A recent study completed by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai set out to discover how hospice care helped surviving spouses of the patients. What they found is that hospice care often makes a significant, positive impact on the spouses' mental health. 

Researchers began by studying data from more than 1-thousand now deceased patients with surviving spouses. The spouses were tracked for up to two years to record their mental and physical health record after bereavement. All individuals included in the study were over the age of 50 and all patients began hospice care due to a serious illness. 

The patients analyzed belonged to two groups, one group of hospice care patients, and one group that was never under hospice care. 

Spouses of patients who received hospice care showed definitively that they were less likely to experience depression symptoms than spouses of the patients not in hospice care. These results were at their most pronounced one year after a patient's death. 

It's unknown if there's a specific service provided under hospice that has this positive affect on surviving family members. The patients in this particular study received services including medical services, symptom management, spiritual counseling, social services and bereavement counseling. 

Perhaps the most amazing part of the researchers discovery is that a reduced risk of depression was evident even in spouses of patients who were in hospice care for only three days. 

This is a significant study given that the risk of depression is typically at its highest following the loss of a spouse. Being able to show a significantly reduced risk during this time makes this benefit even more pronounced. 

Currently, about 45-percent of terminally ill patients are under hospice care when they die, which is marks a 20-percent increase over the past decade. 

To learn more about how hospice care benefits the patient and the family, contact us at Cura-HPC of Tulsa. 

3 Common Situations Caregivers Encounter With Dementia Patients

Posted on Nov 16, 2015

Elderly hospice patient with caregiver

Many of the seniors in hospice care across the country are suffering with mid or late stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This can present challenges to their caregivers and their family as their behavior changes and their cognitive abilities fade. If you have a loved one suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, follow these tips for the acceptable handling of some common situations.

Aggressive behavior

As Alzheimer’s advances, individuals tend to exhibit more aggressive speech and behaviors. This can be caused by physical discomfort, a lack of communication ability or just a fear and misunderstanding of their current surroundings. The key for caregivers is to identify what’s causing this aggression and calmly remove the problem or help to shift the focus. It’s important to avoid engaging in an argument because that tends to escalate the situation.

Time and place confusion

Often, patients feel a loss of control when dealing with dementia, which can be what leads them to being confused about where they are, why they’re there and what year it is. They may simply desire to be back in a time of their lives when they felt more in control. This behavior can be particularly heartbreaking for loved ones, however. One option is to redirect the person rather than answering and contradicting them. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests that you give simple explanations with photos or tangible reminders to bring them back to the present. The primary goal is to answer in a way that makes the individual feel safe and assured. That means avoiding long explanations and reason.

Poor judgment

Common examples of poor judgment are accusations against family members or nursing home staff, repetition of certain tasks or unexplained hoarding. This is caused by the deterioration of brain cells, which often leads to delusions. Because the patient believes something is true, it leads them to out of character behaviors. It’s important not to outright question this behavior, however. Instead, offer help in tasks they seem to be struggling with, or try to get to the reason behind the behavior by having a casual conversation. Through communication, the individual may voluntarily admit to having trouble in certain areas, which you can then volunteer to help with.

Moving those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s out of their homes can lead to further decline and more confusion. At Cura HPC, our hospice care services are able to help care for Alzheimer’s patients in the comfort of their own home with compassion and dignity. Contact us to learn more. 

Key Differences Between Hospice Care and Palliative Care

Posted on Nov 12, 2015

elderly woman holding hands with younger woman

The terms hospice care and palliative care are similar in meaning and are often used interchangeably. While they share many of the same services and philosophies, there are also some fundamental differences, however. Here are a few of the most noteworthy differences between the two.


In most cases, hospice services are administered to a patient in their own home. Palliative care, on the other hand, is normally given at the medical facility where the patient receives treatment. This line is often blurred because hospice care can also be given in some cases in a nursing home, hospice facility or even a hospital. Palliative care, likewise, is occasionally administered away from medical facilities. The reason hospice is often more flexible on location is because it relies on a hospice nurse and the family caregiver, while a palliative care team relies on doctors, nurses and other medical caregivers.


Most individuals understand that patients are typically referred to hospice care when they have a terminal disease. While most patients enter hospice when they’ve been given six-months or less to live, there is no specific time limit for their care. Palliative care also has no time limits, but also is far less limited on the types of patients it accepts. Regardless of the stage or nature of an illness, a patient may be accepted by palliative care.


Hospice services concentrate on a patient’s comfort rather than on aggressive treatments. While these treatments could slightly prolong life, they also greatly reduce the quality of it. While it isn’t required that a patient stops treatment when beginning hospice care, it is often the case to enable them to enjoy their remaining time without negative side-effects. Palliative care, conversely, typically works alongside other treatment plans. It is used to increase a patient’s comfort during any phase of their disease and treatment, but not at the expense of the other treatment methods in place.

What is confusing to many is the exceptions to these differences that make hospice care and palliative care even more similar.

To learn more about both, or to find out if one is right for you or a loved one, contact us at Cura-HPC. 

The Choice Between A Nursing Home and Hospice Care

Posted on Nov 06, 2015

Hospice patient and relative

Many seniors and their families face an important choice for end of life care. A common situation is a discharge from the hospital and a decision for where to go next. While most prefer to go home, extenuating circumstances often make that decision complicated and families end up choosing to place them in a nursing home instead. Here is a detailed look about what should go into this decision between a nursing facility or hospice care received at home for end of life care.

Monitoring versus Comfort

The reason many families believe that a nursing facility is the best choice for their elderly loved one is the belief that they require 24/7 monitoring of vital signs and other round the clock nursing services. In some cases, the individual patient may in fact require these services. But, when providing end of life care, most individuals favor the level of comfort and support provided by in-home hospice care. It’s important to recognize the distinction between the two and choose the option that best fits the individual’s needs. If it is a true end of life situation, comfort should likely be the primary concern, rather than treatment.

The problem with both

There are many examples of patients receiving hospice care while in a nursing home, but this isn’t a viable option for everyone. Taking advantage of both care options is cost-prohibitive for most families. Medicare will cover the cost of a skilled-nursing facility, or the cost of hospice care, for many patients, but only rarely will they cover both at the same time. This means a family will face the cost of the nursing home stay without assistance, which often equals hundreds of dollars per day. Because few families have the means to comfortably afford a care option without any type of assistance, they’re lead back to having to choose one or the other.

Final 6-month study

The National Health and Retirement Study was conducted between 1994 and 2007 and examined more than 5-thousand seniors. All of members of this group studied lived independently before a hospital stay and not in a nursing facility. After their hospital stay or illness necessitated choosing an end of life care option, about a third of them chose to stay at a nursing facility. That group was typically over the age of 85 and near death. More than 40-percent of that group died in the nursing home, while nearly 40-percent died in a hospital. About 10-percent were able to go home before passing away.

Compare that to the rest of the group who decided against a nursing facility. Of that group, more than 40-percent died in their own home. They received professional, dedicated end of life care rather than the expensive, and lower quality care offered by a nursing facility. As a doctor involved in the study pointed out, the nursing facilities aren’t intended to provide end of life care. Instead, they are meant for rehabilitation and the goal is for patients to be able to return home.

For information about hospice care for yourself or a loved one, contact us at Cura-HPC. We provide end of life care that focuses on comfort and support for both the patient and their family.