What is Hospice Care | What is Hospice Care and What Are Its Purposes
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What is hospice care and what are its purposes

“What is hospice care?” That question is not asked often enough—or early enough. One of the biggest misconceptions of “hospice” is that it’s a place. At its core, hospice is a philosophy of care for those nearing the end of life. 

What is hospice care and what are its purposes?

First, hospice is an approach to care not tied to a specific place. There are hospice houses in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont; and hospitals also provide in-patient hospice care. But more than 90% of hospice services are administered in a patient’s home, the home of a family member/loved one, a community residence or a skilled nursing facility where the patient already lives.

Second, hospice is not morbid. It’s not gloom, doom and sad faces, with patients bedridden in a dark room, slowly passing away—though many think of it that way.

Hospice caregivers make it possible for patients to live the rest of their lives with as much joy as possible. Sure, there are times when symptoms leave patients unable to do everything they want, but caregivers do their best to manage symptoms so patients enjoy their remaining time.

A primary goal of hospice caregivers is discovering what is most important to patients and how to make that happen. It’s about:

  • Spending more time with children and grandchildren
  • Getting in the car, going to the beach and having a chocolate ice cream cone
  • Picking strawberries 
  • Going on one more great fishing trip
  • Sewing a baby blanket
  • And, many many more things to extensive to list in one blog post

A patient’s final wishes are a huge part of hospice care. It’s more about what patients can and want to do  than what gets taken away. Patients may no longer be able to drive, but if seeing a live musical is on their bucket list, caregivers will do their best to get a seat or bring a singer to them, if not well enough to travel.

Third, hospice is not only for the final days. There’s a built-in negative connotation to the word, hospice. Some people hear it and think, “That’s the end. Time to die” That is not necessarily so. Entering into hospice care does mean a patient has a terminal illness and a short life expectancy. 

But the focus for caregivers is not on how to help someone die, but to help patients live their best life for their remaining days. Hospice professionals and volunteers make the best experiences possible with a patient’s remaining time. 

They help patients: 

  • Come to closure 
  • Do the things they want to do and enjoy doing
  • Ease their mind into a living mode as opposed to an “I’m dying” mode

Medicare outlines that two physicians can qualify a patient for hospice if the patient has a diagnosis of (about) six months or less to live. Often, patients in a hospice program are still doing some things to care for themselves such as getting out of bed, getting dressed, and taking care of personal hygiene, for example. 

The emphasis here is that they are mobile, alert and living! By living, they still do the things that bring joy to their lives. Once patients become part of a hospice program, many wish they had known about it sooner.

Hospice care is not just for people with terminal cancer

Professional caregivers begin the hospice conversation with someone, and the response is often, “But, I don’t have cancer. I can’t go to hospice.” Hospice provides care and support for patients with any diagnosis with a life expectancy of (about) six months or less. 

Cancer is the principal diagnosis for hospice patients at 30.1% (according to a 2017 study from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization).

The other diagnoses for hospice patients include: circulatory/heart disease (17.6%), dementia (15.6%), other (13.9%), respiratory (11%), stroke (9.4%) and chronic kidney disease (2.3%).

We produced a free, downloadable Hospice Guide with articles on:

  • When to contact hospice (Answer: Now!)
  • Differences between hospice care and palliative care
  • Services for veterans
  • Hospice care with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Directives and medical intervention
  • How hospice care serves all members of the family

This blog post answers the questions:

  • What is hospice care?
  • What is hospice care and what are its purposes?

What is hospice care?

Hospice is an approach to care not tied to a specific place. More than 90% of hospice services are administered in a patient’s home, the home of a family member/loved one, a community residence or a skilled nursing facility where the patient already lives.

What is hospice care and what are its purposes?

Hospice makes it possible for patients to live the rest of their lives with as much joy as possible. Caregivers do their best to manage symptoms so patients enjoy their remaining time.

Your Hospice Care Guide is Here.

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