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2005 Grant - Hirschman
Redesigning the Hospice Medicare Benefit for Persons With Advanced Dementia
Karen B. Hirschman, Ph.D., M.S.W.
University of Pennsylvania
2005 New Investigator Research Grant
The Hospice Medicare Benefit was designed to provide terminally-ill people access to a full range of care services in their final months of life. However, despite the substantial need for special services, including spiritual, emotional, psycho-logical and caregiving support, people with Alzheimer's disease and their family members rarely use this benefit. It is also unclear which of the covered services would be most beneficial to them.
Karen B. Hirschman, Ph.D., M.S.W., and colleagues will investigate how the current Hospice Medicare Benefit could meet the needs of those with advanced dementia and their caregivers. The researchers will focus on palliative care, which is designed to relieve symptoms and provide the maximum comfort as a person approaches the End-of-Life.
By interviewing caregivers and family members, Hirschman and colleagues will pinpoint those services that are most likely to prove beneficial to people with advanced Alzheimer's disease. The individual findings will be presented to a panel of palliative care experts, who will develop, refine and prioritize a list of the most valuable services. The panel will also identify which services are available through the current Hospice Medicare Benefit. The results will also be used as a basis to apply for funding to support a more quantitative study of how palliative care services may help people with advanced Alzheimer's disease.