Question: My wife has been diagnosed with COPD and we are having a hard time dealing with the symptoms, coordinating medical appointments, etc. Do you have any tips? We are on Medicare and can’t afford to private pay a nurse to come in and help us.

Answer: That is a tough situation, but here is one tip I’ve seen work in similar situations. I know that people have a view of hospice that leads them to believe it is only for the last couple of weeks of life. Many doctors have this belief as well. However, if someone is diagnosed with an illness that is not curable, like COPD or congestive heart failure or Alzheimer’s, it is possible to be assessed for hospice home care and receive it through Medicare. Here’s why: Medicare has seen the value in hospice before the final days of life. Say your wife has a bad reaction to an antibiotic and it causes you to rush to the emergency room. An emergency room visit can cost Medicare $3,000 or more. But if your wife is on hospice, a nurse can come and visit a few times a week at $200 a visit to make sure her symptoms are under control. They will even courier prescriptions to you. I had a client who had hospice coming to help him with his wife for two years before she succumbed to her disease. During that time, hospice greatly enhanced her quality of life and enabled them to stay in their home. This is not always possible, but it is something to be aware of. Currently I’ve had the most experience with Kindred Hospice in Colorado Springs and they will come to Teller County. They can be reached at 573-4166.

Rebecca Blair is a Senior Advocate at the Community of Caring Foundation Aspen Mine Center. Contact her with questions on senior living in Teller County at or 689-3584, ext. 101.

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