The decision to choose hospice is a very personal one. It directly involves the patient, family, physician, and any loved ones who may serve as caregivers. Here are a few things you should consider.

  • Hospice’s expertise in palliative, or “comfort” care, assures the patient of state-of-the-art pain control and symptom management.
  • Hospice enables patients to focus on living their remaining days fully, at home, among family and friends. This emphasis on family involvement –understanding that everyone’s definition of “family” is unique – helps individuals to support each other during this time of life.
  • Hospice care allows terminally ill patients and their families to remain together in the comfort and dignity of their home and to die in familiar surroundings.
  • Hospice care is a cost-effective alternative to the high costs associated with hospitals and traditional institutional care.
  • Hospice treats the person, not the disease; focuses on the family, not only the individual patient; and emphasizes the quality of life, not its duration.
  • Hospice care relies on the combined knowledge and skill of a team of professionals, including physicians, nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, counselors, and volunteers.

Hospice care focuses on enhancing the quality of life in its final stages. It seeks neither to shorten nor prolong life. A patient can choose to leave hospice care at any time and return to aggressive curative treatment for the disease. The choice is always yours. A physician’s referral to hospice care usually indicates that no other curative measures are appropriate to be offered. Receiving hospice care does not mean giving up hope or that death is imminent. The earlier an individual receives hospice care, the more opportunity there is to stabilize a patient’s medical condition and address other needs.

When the goal of treatment begins to shift from curing the illness to providing comfort, it is time to consider hospice. This time may come well before a physician indicates that the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less. Sadly, many people wait until their final days to involve hospice. By contacting hospice early in the diagnosis, the patient and family reserve time to understand their options and choose the path that will have the most positive impact on quality of life. The best time to learn about hospice is before you need it.

Hospice care is virtually free under Medicare. Commercial insurance plans also have comprehensive hospice benefits.

No, hospice is for people with cancer, Alzheimers, AIDS, cardiac, liver, respiratory, and kidney diseases or any life-limiting illness. Hospice patients include young people and even children.

No, most hospice care is provided at home, but it can also be provided in nursing homes, hospitals, and free-standing hospices

No, choosing hospice means stopping attempts to cure life-limiting illness in favor of comfort care and relief from symptoms. You can receive curative care for other illnesses.