What is Hospice?
The “end of life” or hospice topic is typically one that makes most people uncomfortable.
It’s not something that we like to talk about, and the word “hospice” is just another word that most people associate with death. Interestingly enough, utilizing this type of care can actually be a key driver in helping to improve the health and well-being of a loved one. While it’s true that hospice is a type of treatment that is only for patients in their last months of life, there are some things that distinguish it from other types of care:
It is about keeping patients and their families comfortable. Hospice was created to provide an alternative to traditional hospital passing. The focus is not on prolonging life at all costs. Instead, nurses and physicians aim to ease patient suffering and help family members cope. Compared to a hospital, where patients often receive invasive and painful medical procedures in an effort to avoid death, patients receive medication and care with the sole purpose of decreasing suffering.
It’s similar to palliative care, but not quite the same thing. Palliative care is a type of medicine designed to help patients deal with any severe illness. Hospice, on the other hand, is specifically for people who have had a terminal diagnosis.
It requires physician certification. Because hospice is only for patients who are in their last six months of life, you have to have a doctor’s permission to be admitted to a hospice program. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance cover hospice care in most cases.
If you or a loved one are facing a terminal illness, talk to your physicians about how to manage pain, discomfort, and other problems. Be sure to also check our “Caregiver Resources” section for more information on How to Better Communicate with a Physician During a Visit.