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Hospice Care - Receiving Hospice Care

When you decide to be cared for by a hospice program, it means that your treatment goals will shift from doing everything possible to cure your condition to giving you the best quality of life that is possible in the time you have left.

You don't 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.

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Hospice services

Your hospice team may include medical professionals, counselors, therapists, social workers, spiritual advisers, home health aides, and trained volunteers. Your team can:

  • Help with advance directive forms and making sure that your wishes about life support and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) are carried out.
  • Answer questions about palliative treatments, which relieve pain and other symptoms.
  • Help you with things like daily activities, bathing, eating, and moving around.
  • Help you figure out what is important in terms of putting your legal and financial affairs in order.
  • Help you and your family talk to each other and deal with difficult emotions.
  • 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

Counseling and support services that hospice provides can help you to:

  • Resolve differences with family and friends or say important things that may otherwise go unsaid.
  • Review your life and set goals for the time you have left.
  • Explore spiritual issues.

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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    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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