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Content Overview

Hospice Care 101

Overview

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There may come a time when you are ready to stop fighting a health condition. Instead, you may want to focus on having the best quality of life you can, with the least amount of pain and discomfort for you and the people you love. The shift to seeking care instead of cure is known as hospice care.

Hospice care focuses on quality care at the end-of-life. It is care that provides peace, comfort / pain relief, dignity, and psychological and spiritual support.

Hospice care can be provided in a variety of settings including the comfort of your own home, a home-like setting in a hospice facility, a nursing home, or in a hospice section of a hospital.

Hospice care is generally paid for by health insurance (including Medicare and Medicaid). Free hospice care is usually available if you don't have hospice coverage and you don't have the funds.

In order to be admitted to hospice care, it is generally required that, under normal circumstances, it is generally required that there is a life-expectancy of six months or less. Some hospices permit people with up to 12 months life expectancy to start hospice care. Insurance companies are extending coverage to match, and are also allowing continuing treatment for the illness in addition to care.

Once in hospice, if the patient's functioning level has not exceeded the hospice's criteria for meeting eligibility and the disease continues to be accompanied by a short ilfe expectancy, the hospice benefit is reviewed and renewed quarterly. There is generally no outer time limit about how long a person can remain in hospice.

Research has shown that patients and families who use hospice services report a higher quality of life than those who don’t. 

If you are interested in hospice, let your doctor know. There is no reason to wait for a doctor to start the discussion about hospice care.

Once hospice care is started, it can be stopped at any time. The patient can return to aggressive treatment for a cure or otherwise go about living.

Patient advocates generally recommend considering hospice care earlier during treatment rather than waiting untll death is imminent. Studies show that patients who enter hospice care earlier actually live longer than people who do not. 

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