Anne Cotton had enjoyed her years at an assisted living facility in Corvallis, Ore. But at 89, her health problems began to mount: heart failure, weakness from post-polio syndrome, a 30-pound weight loss in a year.
“I’m in a wheelchair,” she said. “I’m getting weaker. I’m having trouble breathing.” On Sept. 30, Dr. Helen Kao, her palliative care doctor and a medical director at Lumina Hospice & Palliative Care, determined that she qualified for hospice services — in which a team of nurses, aides, social workers, a doctor and a chaplain help patients through their final weeks and months, usually at home.
Ms. Cotton, a retired accountant and real estate broker, embraced the idea. “I’ve lived a very full life,” she said. “I’m hoping I’m near the end. I need the help hospice gives.” Her sister died in Lumina’s care; she wants the same support. For older patients, Medicare pays the cost.