Understanding Hospice Care: A Guide for Families

If you or your loved one is facing a serious illness and needs extra care and support, may be the right choice. Hospice is a special kind of care that helps people who are nearing the end of their lives feel as comfortable and peaceful as possible.

What is Hospice Care?

is a way of caring for people who are seriously ill and may be nearing the end of their lives. The goal of hospice care is to help the patient and their family members manage the symptoms and challenges that come with serious illness. Hospice care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who specialize in caring for people with serious illnesses.

How Does Hospice Care Work?

Hospice care can be provided at home, in a nursing home, or in a hospice facility. The hospice team will work with you and your family to create a care plan that meets your unique needs and preferences. The hospice team will also provide emotional support and counseling to help you and your family cope with the challenges of serious illness.

What Services Does Hospice Care Provide?

Hospice care provides a wide range of services to help patients and their families manage the symptoms and challenges of serious illness. Some of the services that hospice care provides include, but is not limited to:

  • Improved quality of life through pain and symptom management
  • Emotional support — dealing with death and dying — for the patient and the family
  • Assistance with personal care and other activities of daily living
  • Spiritual care and counseling to help the patient and family during this challenging time
  • Social services to connect available community resources to the patient and family
  • for caregivers where the patient is temporarily placed at a skilled facility to give the caregivers and families a short break
  • Medical equipment and supplies — durable medical equipment (DME) — to help keep the patient comfortable and to help caregivers provide proper care
  • Medications — comfort medications and those medications related to the terminal illness are often paid for by hospice
  • Would care — direct wound care as provided by the as well as education to caregivers as to how to provide wound care for when a is not onsite
  • Ongoing education, training, encouragement, and support of the patient and family to make the end-of-life journey as easy as possible with the goals of comfort and quality of life as the patient and family describe those terms
  • Scheduled visits were various members of the hospice team come to visit your loved one to assess their current prognosis, symptom management and emotional support needs, order refills for medications and make appropriate telephone calls to doctors, pharmacists, the equipment company, and other parties as needed
  • 24-hour by 7-day availability — You can call your hospice provider 24×7 with questions as well as asking for an nurse to come out and assess the patient for

How Do You Qualify for Hospice Care?

To qualify for hospice care, you must have a serious illness that is expected to limit your life to six months or less. Your doctor will need to certify that you are eligible for hospice care, and you will need to agree to receive hospice care instead of curative treatment.

Picking a Hospice to Provide Care

You and your family have a right to determine which will provide care to your loved one. Hospice is an elective service that you can stop at any time. You have the right to pick the agency that will provide end-of-life care and services.


Hospice care is a special kind of care that can help you or your loved one feel more comfortable and peaceful during a challenging time. If you or someone you love has a serious illness, talk to your doctor about hospice care to see if it might be right for you. Remember, hospice care is all about helping you live your best life, even as you are near the end of it.


Understanding Hospice Care: Is it Too Early to Start Hospice?

What's the process of getting your loved one on hospice service?

Picking a hospice agency to provide hospice services

Medicare — Find and compare hospice providers

Eldercare Locator: a nationwide service that connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources

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