Hospice is a type of end-of-life care that focuses on quality of life instead of quantity of life. When someone is in the last stages of an incurable disease, Hospice care is one alternative to traditional medicine. Instead of using treatments that attempt to prolong life, Hospice care focuses on providing comfort and dignity during the last months and days of a person’s illness. This includes not only focusing on physical needs, but also on emotional and spiritual needs.
One of the distinguishing features of Hospice care is that it’s family-focused, with treatment decisions being centered on the patient and his or her family members, and with family members being trained to provide a majority of the patient’s care. In fact, although Hospice care can be given in the hospital or in a nursing home, in the United States, Hospice care often takes place in the home.
Usually, Hospice services begin when it’s estimated by a doctor that a patient has six months or less to live. Of course, there’s never a way to determine this with any certainty. Often, patients-especially those with cancer- are reluctant to enter Hospice care because they think it’s a sign that they’ve given up. It’s important to know that entering Hospice care is not a permanent commitment. You can begin Hospice care and then decide to resume traditional treatment, returning to Hospice when – and if – it becomes necessary.
The fact that Hospice is family-focused means that not only do family members participate in treatment decisions and care giving, they also receive support from the Hospice program. Hospice provides hands-on care giving support, as well as bereavement and counseling services both during a loved one’s illness and after his or her death.
Hospice care is readily available. You can find more information from your doctor or hospital, or online.