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Hospice Care - Considering Hospice Care

How to talk to your family and medical team

If you feel that you need to ask questions and explore your options about end-of-life care, including hospice, don't wait for your doctor or loved ones to bring up the subject. Be open and direct with your loved ones and your health professionals.

Your doctor can go over hospice care and other options with you. He or she can explain the pros and cons of each of them, answer questions, and advise you. Then you can think about the kinds of treatments you would or would not want in different situations. This can help you get a clear idea of your wishes.

You can make many choices about your end-of-life care ahead of time. Making plans while you are still able may ease your mind and make your final days more peaceful.

Write down any questions you have about hospice care to discuss with your doctor during your next visit. Let your family and doctor know what you decide so they can help carry out your wishes.

The goals of hospice

One goal of hospice is to allow you to live out your life without further treatment for your illness, as naturally as possible. You'll get medical care to provide 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.

Another goal of hospice is to give you as much control and dignity as possible during the time you have left. For example, most people in hospice can choose to die at home, surrounded by loved ones, rather than in a hospital, hooked up to one or more machines.

Other medical care is always available

It's important to understand that hospice doesn't include treatment to cure your illness. But your hospice team will prepare your caregivers to cope with almost anything that could happen at home.

And being in hospice care doesn't mean that you can't go to a hospital if you need to. 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.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 14, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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