What If Medicare Provided Emotional Support for You?


What If Medicare Provided Emotional Support for You?

lifebuoy-1021102_640A New York Times essay, "Imagine a Medicare ‘Part Q’ for Quality at the End of Life" calls for an option, Part Q, we select as Medicare beneficiaries.

"Once I signed up, a coordinated Part Q primary care team — a concierge medical service for the 99 percent — would take responsibility for all my medical care until my death," writes Katy Butler. "Over time, it would help me make the transition smoothly from useful curative approaches to those focused on sustaining my quality of daily life, to 'comfort care only' and, I hope, a gentle death at home. Doctors, nurses and home health aides would come to the house for as long as I needed them. I’d get up to two years of hospice benefits, rather than the current arbitrary six months. And I’d save Medicare money."

Wouldn't it be great to have as many as two years of hospice benefits?

Wouldn't it be great to have health care professionals come to your caree's home (or your home) to help and assist you?

It would be marvelous, wouldn't it?

As I thought about this, I realized that we often overlook the most important piece when we think about adding more help for those family members who care. Caregiving is an emotional experience. Sure, the tasks and drudgery wears on us.

But, it's the emotions--the guilt, the frustration, the resentment, the grief, the heartache--that takes its toll. Every year in our Annual Family Caregiver Survey, survey respondents say they want access to counselors in their communities. Because these same survey respondents tell us that managing emotions (guilt, anger, grief) is the toughest part of the caregiving experience.

What if, along with the doctors and nurses and home health aides, Medicare paid for a counselor to sit down with us on a regular basis? We could talk with the counselor about all we face and fear and all we worry about. In a supportive environment, we could unload that heavy baggage of self-doubt and regrets that can cripple us. We could hear from a trusted professional that we are doing enough and that we don't have to fret that we should do more.

What if we could talk with a counselor who understands that we can feel traumatized by what we see and hear, who knew the weight of our decisions, who empathized with how much we can ache?

With that kind of emotional support, we are better equipped to muster the courage we need during caregiving to let go over and over and over until we finally let go the last time.

And, then, just imagine, how much better we'll be when we face our life after caregiving ends. With our healing heart, we'll be able to step into next.


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