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Taking Care of Mom and Dad: Hospice Care Conclusion

The medical advances of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries have extended life expectancies for just about everyone -- and they've been especially good for older people living in developed countries. But there's been one ironic effect that may affect your parents: When people contract terminal illnesses, they can live in a limbo of high-tech near-death.

Many reasonable people choose not to prolong a life of worsening sickness. They opt, instead, for a more natural -- and, for them, more peaceful -- end of their days. Hospice care supports this second choice. And, to a large degree, the mechanics of both private-sector and government health insurance support hospice care.

If one of your parents has a terminal illness, he or she should be able to select a high quality hospice program. That program can take place in a hospice facility or in your parent's home with hospice workers making visits to provide medical care or equipment and assure basic levels of diet and hygiene.

As a child, you can best help in this situation by sharing in the physical and emotional care of your parent. You may also advise your parent that the hospice option is available (paid for by Medicare, if nothing else) and -- perhaps -- desirable.

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