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What is Hospice Care and When to Consider it?

Hospice care is for you or a family member that might be nearing the end of their life. It is focused on the comfort, care, and quality of life of a person with a terminal illness. While similar to palliative care in the approach, usually the person has 6 months or less to live and treatment of their disease is no longer an option for them. 

Even though it sounds morose, hospice care shouldn’t be looked at as a means to an end.

Instead, it’s important to see that hospice care is all about alleviating stress and pain, and  addressing physical, mental and social needs of the person with a terminal illness. Even though hospice care does not provide treatment or a cure for your illness, it does help with symptoms of your terminal illness, and is a great way to keep you comfortable at home for as long as possible. 

With early intervention, hospice care can provide attentive care and quality time with people that are important to you as you’re nearing the end of your life.  

How Does Hospice Care Happen?

When a cure is no longer an option or you have made the choice to no longer receive treatment, that is the time to start discussions with your doctor about Hospice Care. Doctors don’t always offer hospice care, so it might need to be a discussion that you and your family are willing to bring up. Having those discussions sooner rather than later with your doctor in advance of your hospice stay will improve your care and make sure that it is aligned to what you need. 

Hospice care can be offered at home or in a facility such as a hospital, nursing home or a hospice center. Primarily, hospice care is performed at home by a family caregiver, but at times, hospital care may need to be provided if the hospice team feels that symptoms are not able to be managed at home. The hospice care will provide for all needed equipment and medications that can help alleviate symptoms that a person might be feeling. 

Benefits of Hospice Care

Hospice care’s focus is on  the needs of yourself or your family members. It works with you, your family, and your doctors to provide the best care for you or your loved ones. Hospice care can have a range of services because it is unique to each person receiving care.

 You could have:

  • access to counseling
  • physical therapy
  • speech and language services
  • a wide variety of other medical services 

One of the best parts about it is that you will  have access to a team 24/7 whether over the phone or someone coming to check on you in your home or facility. They want you and your family to know that you are not alone and have support when you need it. Hospice care will focus on:

  • providing care at home by a family member or friend so that you are surrounded by familiarity. 
  • teach your caregivers the best ways to care for you and will also 
  • provide respite care which is important so that your caregivers can have time to recharge and take a break if needed 
  • helping with communication across many different settings – family, doctors, pharmacists, community or local support services. 
  • family meetings so that your family has the best information about your treatments and care that you are receiving 
  • provide time for your family to discuss feelings and get support for the relief of stress during the process
  • Bereavement care to help with the grieving process: families will have access to clergymen, professional counselors, community members for up to a year that can offer help. 

What to Remember About Hospice Care

Hospice care works for you and with you to provide the best care possible at the end of life so you and your family can enjoy the time you have left. Hearing that you or a family member is nearing the end of life is not an easy piece of information to digest, but seeking out hospice care will allow you to have options to help ease the end of life and provide comfort during that time.  

Additional Resources

Hospice: What You Need to Know About End of Life Care

Paying for Hospice Care

Hospice Care: Comforting the Terminally Ill

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