What is Hospice?

Hospice is a practice of specialized care for individuals nearing the end of life. But it is not just for the last few days. In fact, Medicare pays for months of free services to patients and their families. For instance:

  • Do you wish you had help with bathing your loved one?
  • Are you worried about keeping your relative comfortable and out of pain or suffering?
  • Do you wish you had 24/7 access to medical advice?

Hospice offers these services and more. Its goal is to support the patient and family emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

With hospice care, your relative receives regular home visits from

  • a nurse who comes to manage pain, nausea, and other uncomfortable symptoms;
  • a social worker with advice about local programs to help with special needs;
  • a trained volunteer who can stay with your relative once a week so you can have a needed 2-3 hours off.

Such services are free to persons on Medicare who meet these eligibility requirements:

  • An incurable condition
  • A doctor’s assessment that the patient is not likely to live longer than six months
  • Willingness to let go of curative treatment

With an emphasis on quality of life, hospice is the choice for patients who would rather enjoy the time they have left than continue with repeated hospitalizations and ER visits.  It’s also good for patients who are tired of dealing with the side effects of treatment that offers only a slim chance of recovery.

If you think your loved one could benefit from hospice care, ask the doctor a simple question: “Would you be surprised if [your relative] were to die in the next year?” If the doctor says “no,” then it’s wise to talk about if/when hospice would be a good choice.  In hindsight, many families say they wish they had signed up sooner.

To learn more about hospice click here.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.