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The hospice is usually referred to as a place of death. Many view it as a sad and lonely place. In busy countries, families put their elderly loved ones in a hospice when they're nearing the end of their life. It can be either they're too old to be in a nursing home, they require special care, or that they need palliative care. 

Despite the sight of impending death, it's also a place with so much love. Healthcare workers shower their patients with all the love that they need, and families show their love, too. All to give their loved ones the best memories of their last days on earth.

Unfortunately, some providers consider hospices as a business opportunity. Like any other industry, fraud, misconduct, and abuse are common. You can help put a stop to this by merely being aware of the warning signs, which are: 

1. The Elderly Patient Suddenly Fears Being Touched

You know your family members the most. If your elder family member in the hospice is suddenly getting more and more distant when they didn't use to be that way, then this could be a warning sign of abuse. They could also show signs that they suddenly fear being touched. 

For instance, when you arrive, they might tremble when you touch them or hug them. If your loved one didn't use to be this way, then it can be a warning sign that something terrible is going on. It's a telltale sign of possible physical abuse in the hospice.

2. The Elderly Patient Is Losing Weight For No Reason

Hospices are expensive. When you decide to place a family member in the hospice, this also means that you're ready for the financial obligation going to be entailed. This expense stems from the very fact that there are salaries of employees, food, and other expenses. Hence, it's expected that when you place your loved one in the hospice, they're going to be fed well. 

When you come to visit your elderly family members, take a look at their physique. Ask your doctor, too, if there's anything unusual about the weight loss of your patient. If you think that they're losing weight for no reason, take the time to review their meals. 

Remember that stress affects digestion. If your elderly patient is unreasonably stressed, they may also be eating poorly, which doesn’t do them any good. See if your loved ones are getting the services that you're paying for. 

3. There Are Unexplained Bruises And Fractures

Apart from noticing that your elderly loved one may be losing weight, you might also see that there are unexplained bruises, fractures, or cuts. To have a better assessment of these, you might want to bring in a doctor. That way, the doctor can also help see the possible causes of these wounds. 

If it's anything related to a medical condition that your elder loved one has, then you've got nothing to worry about. But, if it looks like they were done on purpose, then that's another warning sign for you to be conscious about.

Generally, most of the caregivers are very good at taking care of their patients. Unfortunately, there are also some that, by their misconduct, ruin the reputation of the healthcare industry. Your patient may be left in the care of a caregiver that isn't too keen on doing their job. Whatever your doubts, you might want to bring this up as well with the upper hospice management.

4. The Elder Relative Looks Messy and Unkempt

This applies especially if your loved ones are already unable to take care of their hygienic needs by themselves. A part of the sum that you pay for hospices is for the care of their needs. This includes dressing up, brushing their teeth, cleaning after they poo or pee, and bathing them. Because you're unable to give this tender-loving care yourself, you trust that the hospice staff is well trained to do this.

If your loved one starts looking messier and unkempt than usual, then this could also be a sign of fraud. The hospice may be cheating you off your money. Remember that this isn’t impossible, as there are numerous accounts today of hospice medicare fraud and abuse. The clothes aren't washed and taken cared of. And, so are the hygiene needs, too. 

This fact is also the reason why it pays to check on your loved ones regularly. That way, you'll know if they're being treated in the most respected, dignified, and humane way possible. Especially as this might be their last few remaining moments alive.

5. The Patient Complains of Losing Money or Other Belongings

It's uncommon for patients to have money with them while they're inside the hospice. But, they may have special belongings. Some can also be valuable and expensive. These belongings are brought with them to the hospice so that they feel more at home and comfortable. It makes them feel less as if they're all alone and in solitary confinement. 

When your loved one starts complaining of losing valuables or other belongings, then you might want to take notice of this. Search by yourself as well. It could be that caregivers or members of the staff are taking advantage of the weaknesses of the patients by stealing a little here and there.

6. The Patient Complains of Sores and Preventable Conditions

As much as it hurts you to leave your loved ones in the hospice, sometimes you've got no other choice. There are other family members to be taken cared of, too. Hence, you entrust the care of your dear loved ones in the hospice. More so, when they're at the end stages of their lives, you want to be assured that they're getting the best care and love possible.

Part of the care and treatment should be the same as it is in the hospital. There's a strict schedule for medicines, diaper changes, and whatnot. Even the schedule and time to rotate and move the patient around is also taken cared of. 

Doing this religiously will prevent conditions like bedsores. If the caregiving team does their best in ensuring that these needs are met, then bedsores, for instance, won't happen. When they don’t, that could be a telltale sign of neglect.

Conclusion

Hospice fraud and abuse do happen. When it does, the sad part is that they usually end up unreported. For families who leave their loved ones in a place that's supposed to shower them with love and care, this can be very devastating news to hear. 

It will only continue to become rampant if people will keep turning a blind eye to it. Awareness is key, and it's one of the best ways to put a stop to the abuse and fraud.

Hospice (Palliative) Care