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Hospice is for people who are near the end of their life. It provides medical treatment to relieve symptoms. The goal is to keep you comfortable, not to try to cure your disease. Hospice care does not speed up or lengthen dying. It focuses on easing pain and other symptoms.
Hospice care also offers emotional help and spiritual support when you are dying. And it helps family members manage the practical details and emotional challenges of caring for a loved one who is dying.
Some people think that starting hospice is a last resort, that it means they're giving up on life. Some think that hospice means a lower level of medical care. But hospice is simply a type of care that focuses on the quality of your life instead of on continuing with treatment to prolong your life.
There are many reasons why you might choose hospice care. You might choose it if treatment for your disease has become more of a burden than a benefit. Or you might choose hospice if you want to focus on comfort rather than medical treatments.
Hospice care generally includes:
A team will manage your care. This team includes a doctor, nurses, a social worker, and trained volunteers. A family member or loved one may look after you much of the time. Other professionals may help, such as a dietitian, a counselor, a physical therapist, or a spiritual adviser.
Usually, two things must be true for you to be eligible for hospice care:
You don't need to be confined to a bed or in a hospital to benefit from hospice.
It can be hard for doctors to know how long someone will live. Some people live longer than expected. If you do live longer than 6 months, you can keep having hospice care. If your illness gets better, you can stop getting hospice care. You may no longer qualify for it.
Hospice care is generally paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. Care may also be available to those who can't pay.
The last stages of a serious illness can be hard. You may feel like you have lost control over your life and what will happen to you.
Hospice care can show you your options. And knowing your options gives you back some control. It allows you to make decisions about things that are important to you.
You may want to choose hospice care if:
You don't need to be confined to a bed or in a hospital to benefit from hospice care.
It can be hard for doctors to know how long a person will live. Some people live longer than expected. If you do live longer than 6 months, you can keep having hospice care. If your illness gets better, you can stop getting hospice care. You may no longer qualify for it.
Some people are living with a terminal illness that isn't predictable. They may not necessarily die within 6 months. In fact, they may live for several years. But they may still be eligible for hospice care.
There are guidelines for terminal diseases that have an unpredictable course. People may have hospice care when their disease has reached an advanced stage if they have:
Many people who are living with a disease that has an unpredictable but still terminal course may also want and be able to get hospice care. In some of these cases, Medicare might not cover hospice care costs. Medicare covers the cost of hospice in the last 6 months of life.
The goal of hospice is to keep you comfortable so you can live well during the time you have left. You will get medical care to provide comfort rather than to prolong life. Hospice workers will keep you as alert and pain-free as they can.
For example, chemotherapy may no longer be used to cure your cancer. But you might get it to reduce pain.
People who want to live as long as possible by any medical means are not a good match for hospice care.
Another goal of hospice is to give you as much control and dignity as possible during the time you have left. For example, most people in hospice can choose to die at home, surrounded by family and friends, rather than in a hospital, hooked up to one or more machines.
Hospice care often includes:
Your hospice team can:
Hospice also provides counseling and support services. They can help you to:
Hospice care also includes helping your family members through their grief after you die. Most programs will provide bereavement services for those close to you for at least a year after your death. Services include things like support groups and counseling,
You will need to fill out some forms for hospice care. These include:
After you start the hospice program, you will want to get all billing arrangements in writing. This includes costs and payment arrangements. Be sure to keep a copy.
Be sure that your family knows:
Your doctor or a member of your care team may refer you to a hospice program. If not, you can ask your doctor.
Or you may choose a hospice program yourself. To start, call some of the programs in your area. People and organizations that can help you find hospice programs include:
All hospice programs should provide materials that describe their services. This includes who provides the services, who is eligible, how much it costs, and how to pay. And they should describe the program's insurance and liability information. Ask for this information. Read it carefully.
Current as of:
June 16, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: June 16, 2022
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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