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What is Hospice?

by At Home Preferred on February 4, 2012

When you hear that someone is receiving hospice service, the usual response is one of sadness and a feeling that the individual must be at death’s door.

This could be the case, but more often than not, it is not the case.

So what is this thing called hospice? Hospice has actually been around since the 17th century with the modern-day approach being in existence since the 1950s. Hospice is a philosophy of care that includes keeping a person comfortable and improving the quality of life, as the disease process takes its natural course. This situation is accomplished using techniques and drugs for pain control, medical equipment, counseling, social support, spiritual support, respite care for the caregivers and volunteers, and much more. The goal is to keep the individual enjoying his or her remaining days with minimal pain and discomfort, and allow him or her to participate in life.

So, do you have to have cancer to be eligible for hospice? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, there are many diseases that an individual would have that would qualify them for the hospice benefit: Alzheimer’s, heart failure, kidney failure, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, to name a few. The main criterion for hospice care does not lie in the disease as it does more in the end stage of the disease. If it would be reasonable for a physician to expect the person to die within six months if the disease was to follow the normal course, then it is a good bet the hospice benefit would be an advantage.

Where does this care take place? Most people choose to stay at home surrounded by their loved ones who provide their care and agencies that specialize in hospice care send in professional people such as nurses, chaplains, personal care aides and social workers who have special training in end-of-life and palliative care. This care can also be provided in some long-term care facilities, hospitals and homes that specialize in the care of an individual with a terminal diagnosis.

Do people ever get off of hospice care? You bet. People sometimes do get better and return to the medical model of care that most of us are accustomed to.

There are many things to consider when the benefit of hospice care is being looked at and each person has individualized needs and wants. But when the time comes to look at this benefit, it is comforting to know that quality care, with well-trained individuals in this care are out there to take care of you or your loved one.