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When is Hospice Recommended?

Many people may think of hospice as only being necessary when someone is facing the end of their life. However, hospice care isn’t only recommended for those who are going to pass away. Those who enter into hospice care have access to better symptom and pain management, emotional support, and quality time with loved ones. Starting hospice is not a death sentence. Here is what to expect when it comes to hospice care.

What does hospice mean?

Hospice care is a type of medical care that provides patients with a terminal illness with comfort, pain management, and emotional support. Typically, hospice care includes the following:

  • A team of doctors, nurses, and social workers who provide care and support
  • A team of volunteers who provide practical assistance and social activities
  • Round-the-clock nursing care
  • Pain and symptom management
  • Counseling and emotional support
  • Spiritual support, if desired
  • Grief counseling

Hospice is often recommended when a person is terminally ill or at the end of their life, typically when they have less than 6 months to live. According to The American Cancer Society, hospice is often not started early enough. Families and individuals may resist the idea of hospice as they equate it to throwing in the towel and giving up, even though individuals can leave hospice at any time they'd like to.

With this in mind, it's helpful talk to your doctor (or your loved one's doctor) about hospice if you feel the available treatment options have run their course and there is no improvement. If they improve while in hospice, leaving hospice and pursuing other forms of treatment is always an option.

When is hospice called in for cancer patients?

Hospice is typically called in for cancer patients when treatment options have been exhausted, there's no improvement from the available treatment options, or when the patient is in their last months of life. Hospice care is focused on support, comfort, and compassion; it's not intended for those seeking to prolong treatment.

When hospice is called in, what does it mean?

Due to the nature of hospice care, you might be thinking "Does hospice mean death?" The answer to this question is -- not always. Even though hospice care is called in when patients are nearing their end of life or all treatment options have been exhausted, it is possible for patients to recover while in hospice care and for them to exit hospice care. Calling in hospice care does not automatically mean the individual is going to pass away while in hospice, patients can leave hospice at any point.

Is hospice care only for the terminally ill?

In order for patients to qualify for hospice care, they have to have a terminal illness or are believed to be in their last six months of life. VITAS provides additional guidelines on who is eligible for hospice care, though it's still recommended that you speak to a medical professional regarding hospice care and eligibility requirements.

Looking for the right hospice? Browse Ever Loved’s hospice database to find a hospice that works for you and your family. Easily get in touch, read reviews, and compare your options all in one place.

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Last updated May 31, 2022
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