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    What Is Hospice Care?

    Can I Stay at Home -- and Should I? continued...

    You might decide you or your loved one wishes to stay where friends and family can visit freely. In fact, most people choose this option. A relative or friend usually serves as the primary caregiver.

    You may also get care at hospice centers, hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care places.

    You might want to think about these questions when deciding whether to stay at home:

    • Just how ill is the person needing care and how does she feel?
    • Can any pain be managed away from a hospital or nursing home?
    • Is the main caregiver physically and emotionally able to provide what’s needed from home?
    • If you are a caregiver and work, can you afford to cut back on your hours at work or leave your job?
    • Will you be able to get the extra supplies you might need, such as a bedside commode or a wheelchair?

    Your decision is personal, and each situation is different. But how you answer questions such as these will help you decide where to go.

    What Happens Once I’m in Hospice?

    Your team will come up with a special plan just for you and your loved ones. They will focus on making your pain and symptoms better. They will check on you regularly, and a member of the team is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    A doctor -- either your own or one connected with a program -- will give medical care. Nurses will also check on you. Aides will assist with things such as bathing, dressing, cleaning, and cooking. 

    Other services that are available include:

    • Chaplain and spiritual services for you and your loved ones
    • Social work and counseling
    • Medicine to ease pain
    • Medical equipment and supplies
    • Advice on eating
    • Physical and speech therapy
    • Counseling for your loved ones

    How Do I Find a Program?

    Start by asking doctors, nurses, social workers, and friends for ideas. On the Internet, you can go to the website of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. You can call the NHPCO at 800-658-8898. For languages other than English, call 877-658-8896.

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