By Sarah Mahoney
There's an inevitable rhythm to January 1 at my house. I take down the tree, vacuum up pine needles, and start making my New Year's resolutions. The list usually looks like this: Lose weight. Swear off TV and saturated fat. Eat salads. Call Dad more. Write that novel. Floss. By midday I'm worn out, intermittently dozing in front of a football game and swiping my husband's million-calorie nachos.
It's not that I totally lack discipline. It's just that I don't sufficiently appreciate...
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 don't
receive it. Many people, including some health
professionals, simply don't know much about it. It can be hard
for a doctor to talk to a patient about hospice, because it means talking about the end of life.
It can also be
hard for you and your family to accept that the end of life is
near. Some families choose to pursue aggressive medical care up to the
Who is eligible
Eligibility for most hospice programs is usually based on two main requirements:
Your illness can't be cured. This is called a terminal
Your doctor expects that you will live 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 do live longer than 6 months,
you can continue with hospice. If your illness gets better, you can stop
receiving hospice care. You may no longer qualify for it.
Hospice care is generally paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. Care may also be available to those unable to pay.
Hospice care for special situations
Some people are living with a terminal illness that is not predictable. They may not necessarily die within 6 months. In fact, they may live for several years. But they may still be eligible for hospice care.
There are guidelines for terminal diseases that have an unpredictable course. People who have the following illnesses may have hospice care when their disease has reached an advanced stage:
people who are living with a disease that has an unpredictable but still
terminal course may also want and be able to receive hospice care. In some of
these cases, Medicare might not cover hospice care costs. Medicare covers the
cost of hospice in the last 6 months of life.