Understanding Hospice

November 5, 2017

Many think that hospice means giving up and accepting death. A different way to look at it is that we want to focus on comfort, to have a better quality of life for as long as possible. Hospice is typically paid for Medicare or Medicaid. So while it’s a personal decision, it’s important to know what it is and how it can help as you care for yourself or a loved one.

In order to qualify for hospice, you must have a condition with little promise of improvement and a life expectancy of six months or less. The patient and family choose hospice understanding that the objective is to reduce pain and manage symptoms. Your doctor must also agree that hospice is an appropriate decision. Perhaps the most surprising thing  is that people in hospice may live for much longer than six months. While they never get better, they stabilize and enjoy a reasonable quality of life for an extended period. In these cases, hospice service can be renewed indefinitely.

Hospice care is provided by a team that includes:

  • a physician who works with your own doctor to develop a personal plan of care
  • nurses who help assess and execute the plan of care
  • social workers and spiritual care professionals to help provide emotional and spiritual guidance
  • nurse aides to assist with bathing and other personal needs
  • trained volunteers who can give family members respite, assist with errands and provide companionship

Hospice is never an easy decision. From the moment we are born we are dying. At some point it may be helpful to have benefits of this unique program to make life a little easier for someone who is suffering and those around him.

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