If you have a terminal illness, as death nears, you may choose to
receive help and support from hospice. Hospice is a special kind of care that
is available when there is no cure for your condition and death is anticipated
within the next 6 months. The goal of hospice care is to manage pain and other
symptoms and to keep you as alert and comfortable as possible in a familiar
environment, surrounded by your family and friends.
Hospice care is provided by a team of health workers, including
nurses, social workers, volunteers, counselors, and personal care assistants.
Your doctor can continue to direct your care and work closely with you and the
hospice team. Hospice care most often occurs at your home, although it can be
given in a nursing home, a hospital, or a hospice center. If you remain at
home, the hospice team supports your family in their caregiving. And “family”
is not limited to your spouse (or partner) or blood relatives; friends from
your workplace, church, community, or neighborhood may be considered part of
Hospice care seeks to relieve physical symptoms and address your
emotional, social, and spiritual needs, as well as the needs of your loved
ones. Hospice offers a chance to address difficult but normal concerns that you
and those you love may have about death and dying, such as pain, unresolved
issues, and caregiving needs. If you choose, the counseling and support
services that hospice provides will offer opportunities to work on mending
important relationships and to explore spiritual issues.
The hospice team is available to help with advance directive forms
and with legal and financial affairs. Also, hospice people can answer questions
about treatment and what to expect during the dying process. Assistance is also
available to help with physical needs, such as bathing and pain control.
Hospice services are a benefit of many private health insurance
policies; check your health plan for specific information about hospice
coverage. Also, if you qualify for Medicare benefits, hospice services are
covered through the
Medicare hospice benefit.
For more information on choosing hospice, see the topic
July 12, 2010
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Shelly R. Garone, MD - Palliative Medicine
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