You have a disease or illness that is expected
to shorten your life.
Treatment that tries to cure the disease or
prolong your life has become more of a burden than a benefit to
You would like to spend your remaining life as comfortably as
possible in a setting that you choose, such as your own home.
want family and friends to participate in your care.
You want your
loved one who has a serious illness to die comfortably at home.
Some people who might benefit from hospice care do not
receive it for a variety of reasons. Many people, including some health
professionals, simply don't know much about hospice care. It can be difficult
for a doctor to acknowledge that a person is approaching the final stages of an
illness and to introduce the concept of hospice services. It can also be
difficult for you and your family to accept that the end of life is
approaching. Some families choose to pursue aggressive medical care up to the
The following information concerns treatment of grief after the death of a loved one, not necessarily death as a result of cancer.
Normal or Common Grief Reactions
Some controversy continues about whether normal or common grief reactions require any intervention by medical or mental health professionals. Researchers disagree about whether credible evidence on the efficacy of grief counseling exists.[1,2,3,4] Most bereaved persons experience painful and often very distressing emotional,...
By choosing hospice, you decide to stop trying to cure your
illness and to focus instead on comfort and quality of life. If you are at
home, your hospice team will prepare your caregivers to cope with almost
anything that could happen at home. But this does not mean that you cannot go
to a hospital. When a hospice takes over your care, they will work with you to
arrange for any medical care that you need. If something happens that causes a
caregiver to call 911, you may be treated
in a hospital and later return to hospice care.
Hospice Benefit legislation, passed in 1982, pioneered the model for hospice
programs in the United States. Eligibility for most hospice programs, as
established by Medicaid, is based on two main criteria:
Your condition is considered incurable. This is called a terminal
Your doctor has indicated that your life expectancy is 6
months or less if your illness runs its normal course. Typically a form must be
signed by your primary doctor as well as the medical director or physician
member of a hospice team.
It can be hard for doctors to know how long a person will
live. Some people live longer than expected. If you live longer than 6 months,
you can continue on hospice. If your illness gets better, you can stop
receiving hospice care.
Hospices usually take patients who are
declining in their health and daily functioning. This means that the patient
may need help with activities of daily living and isn't eating or moving around
very well. The goal is to live out a natural life without artificial medical
assistance. Medical care is provided to give comfort rather than to prolong
life. For example, chemotherapy may no longer be used to cure your cancer, but
it may be given to reduce pain. People who want to live as long as possible by
any medical means are not a good match for hospice care.