What is hospice care?
Hospice care provides
medical services, emotional support, and spiritual resources for people who are
in the last stages of a serious illness, such as cancer or heart failure.
Hospice care also helps family members manage the practical details and
emotional challenges of caring for a dying loved one.
Why might you choose hospice care?
The goal of
hospice treatment is to keep you comfortable and improve your quality of life
while you are dying. This philosophy is a shift from usual medical treatments,
in which health professionals strive to cure your disease. Hospice services are
not intended to speed up or prolong the dying process. They focus instead on
relieving pain and other symptoms. Hospice caregivers are concerned with
enhancing the quality of remaining life by keeping you as alert and comfortable
as possible in a familiar environment with family and friends.
Hospice programs offer services in your
own home or in a hospice center. Some hospices also offer services in nursing
homes, long-term care facilities, or hospitals.
What kind of services are provided?
services typically include:
- Basic medical care with a focus on pain and
- Access to a member of your hospice team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Medical supplies and equipment as
- Counseling and social support to help you and your family
with psychological, emotional, and spiritual issues.
- Guidance with
the difficult, but normal, issues of life completion and closure.
break (respite care) for caregivers, family, and others who regularly care for
- Volunteer support, such as preparing meals and running errands.
- Counseling and support for your loved ones after you die.
Who is involved with providing hospice services?
Most of the time, hospice care is provided in your home. Typically, a family member
or loved one will look after you much of the time. And someone from
your hospice team will likely visit you for an hour or so one or more times a
week. Your loved ones will work with the hospice team to give you the best care
Hospice teams usually include a doctor and nurses,
social workers, hospice and palliative medicine specialists, spiritual advisors, nursing
assistants, and trained volunteers. It may also include
respiratory therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists,
physical therapists, and
occupational therapists. If you have an emergency or
get scared, you can call the 24-hour hospice number for advice. When needed,
a nurse can usually come to your home at any time of the day or night.
Some people worry about losing touch with their regular, trusted doctor.
But being on hospice does not mean that you won't see your regular doctor. He
or she can work with others on your team to stay involved in your care.
Are you eligible for hospice services?