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7 Things You Should Know About Hospice

7 Things to Know About Hospice

“Hospice” can be a scary word for patients and families, but in reality it is a wonderful service that offers so much in a time of need. One reason “hospice” can be scary is because people don’t truly understand what it is. Here are a few important things you should know about hospice:

1. Hospice helps you focus on your QUALITY of life

Hospice is a service, in your home or another setting that provides pain and symptom management, psychosocial and spiritual support, so that you are able to have your best day possible with a life-limiting illness. By supporting you in all of these ways and keeping you comfortable, hospice care allows you to focus on your quality of life.

2. Hospice supports the whole family

Hospice is not just for the patient enrolled in services. In fact, hospice supports the entire family. Hospice agencies are able to provide respite to tired caregivers as well as provide emotional support through social workers, clergy, and volunteers. A hospice doctor and nurse will be on call 24 hours a day to give you and your family support whenever you need it.

3. You can continue seeing your doctor

Enrolling in hospice services does not prevent you from continuing to visit with your doctor with whom you have formed a relationship. Your doctor can speak directly to the hospice agency or you can go check in with your doctor as you are able.

4. Your pharmacy comes to you

One of the great benefits of hospice is that it brings the pharmacy to you. This means no more running out to get medications, potentially to multiple pharmacies. Hospice can adjust your medications as needed, in real time. This reduces another burden on you and your family. Hospice agencies will also quickly deliver durable medical equipment such as a wheelchair or hospital bed.

5. There is no fixed timeframe

Once enrolled in hospice, a patient is approved for two 90-day periods. If they need to be re-certified after 6 months to continue services, that is completely fine. I have known patients who have been enrolled with a hospice provider for over a year. Alternatively, if a patient changes their mind and decides that they would like to pursue treatment or stop hospice services for any reason, it is also ok to do so.

6. Hospice provides benefits and support after death

Hospice is able to provide ongoing support to family and friends after the death of a patient. Hospices offer one on one support as well as bereavement groups, among other resources.

7. Hospice is a benefit you are entitled to

Hospice services are a benefit you have a right to under Medicare. Once you enroll in hospice services, the Medicare hospice benefit should cover everything you need.

If you have any questions about hospice, now is the time to ask your care team. Having these discussions with your loved ones can reduce stress at a later time if you are able to make your wishes known now. The goal of hospice is to provide compassionate and high quality care at the end of life, something which every person is entitled to. For more information about hospice, check out the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • susanmees
    3 years ago

    Thank you for this article! My stepfather was in hospice care for about 3 months at the end of his life and it really helped to ease a terrible situation. At first my mom (his primary caregiver) struggled to let others do things for him – as the caregiver she thought it was her job to change him (once he was bedridden), feed him, administer his meds, everything. She was resistant to relying on the hospice nurses but once we got her into the flow of it, it helped immensely for her to have a few minutes to herself.

    The hospice workers were, to a person, amazing to work with. The thing I most appreciated was that they always treated my stepfather as a true person, not only a person with cancer. Even when he was struggling with cognitive decline they did their best to meet him on his level and work to understand his situation.

    Many people think hospice is only for the last stages of dying, the week or so immediately before death. I would love to help other caregivers AND patients understand how much hospice organizations can improve those last months you have together. And on top of that, to just tell everyone – don’t be afraid to ask for more help. The hospice aide was coming 3 days a week but we asked to increase it and they didn’t bat an eyelash. Advocate for yourself as a caregiver and know that it’s not a critique of your love and devotion to ask for help.

  • Christina Hegarty moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi susanmees,
    I’m so sorry to hear of your stepfather’s passing, but I am glad you and your family, especially your mother, were able to receive such wonderful help and support through hospice. Thank you so much for sharing with us! We’re glad you’re a part of our community!
    Christina, Team

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