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Care at the End of Life - Topic Overview

Will you have to choose between types of care? continued...

Others choose palliative care, which does not try to cure your illness. It looks at ways to make you more comfortable. For example, palliative care may include giving you medicines to help with pain or with the side effects from treatment. Palliative care team members may also provide physical therapy or help you if you are having problems such as anxiety or loss of appetite from chemotherapy.

You can have both types of treatment. You can get palliative care to help keep you comfortable, and you can take medicines or other treatments that might cure you.

A time may come when you decide to stop curative treatment if it is very clear that your illness can't be cured. You will still see your doctor and get excellent care. And if your condition changes, you can start curative treatment again. But if your illness is expected to get worse, you may want to plan ahead for that time by talking with your doctor. He or she will be the one to refer you for hospice care.

Hospice care is for people who are close to the end of life and are not likely to live for more than 6 months.

Where would you like to receive care as you are dying?

Another thing to think about is where you'd like to receive care. Some people would rather be cared for in a hospital. Others choose to be cared for at home or in a nursing home.

If you have only a few months left, you may choose to receive care through hospice. Hospice services are provided by a team of people that includes doctors, nurses, and volunteers. The team gives palliative care and emotional and spiritual support to people near the end of life and to their families. It may offer practical support like running errands or fixing meals. You can get hospice care in your home or in a hospice center, hospital, or nursing home.

The costs are usually covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. If you don't have any coverage, a hospice will probably work with you and your family to make sure you can receive their services.

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