Hospice is a
comprehensive program with services for people who are seriously ill and not
expected to recover. When you decide to be cared for by a hospice program, you
acknowledge that your treatment goals will shift from doing everything possible
to cure your condition to helping make the rest of your life as comfortable and
high-quality as possible.
You do not need to be bedridden or in a
hospital to benefit from hospice care. No matter what your physical condition,
hospice services focus on keeping you as comfortable, functional, and alert as
possible. If needed, these services may include help with bathing, dressing,
and eating as well as medicine and treatment for all symptoms, including pain
Hospice teams, which consist of medical
professionals, counselors, therapists, social workers, spiritual advisors, home
health aides, and trained volunteers, are available to address your ongoing
concerns and needs. Your team can:
advance directive forms. This may include documenting
your preferences regarding life support and cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Answer questions about palliative treatments, which are
designed to relieve pain and other symptoms.
Help you determine
what is important in terms of putting your legal and financial affairs in
Help you and your family communicate and deal with
Give your caregivers a break (respite care). Trained volunteers
may be available to relieve your loved ones for a few hours a week. If your
caregivers need a longer break or must be away to attend a special event, some
hospices provide respite care for several days.
Counseling and support services that hospice provides can
Resolve differences with family and friends or
say important things that may otherwise go unsaid.
Hospice care also includes helping your family and friends
through their grief after you die. Most programs continue to provide
bereavement services for family and friends, such as support groups and
counseling, for at least a year after a loved one's death.