Hospice care and help for caregivers

Thinking and talking about end-of-life care can be hard. But offering the best possible care during difficult times may help bring you and your family comfort.

It may help to know that patients and families who have participated in hospice report wishing they had gotten care sooner, according to the Hospice Foundation of America. Read on to learn more about hospice care, so you can be more prepared if the time comes to choose this kind of care for you or a loved one.

What is hospice care?

Hospice is a type of medical care that helps increase the quality of life of someone living with a terminal illness. Hospice typically provides support and care during the final stages of a health condition that will likely cause death, like cancer, heart disease, emphysema and advanced dementia. Many are surprised to learn that some hospice patients who show improvement (like cancer remission) can stop hospice care and go back to treatment in another medical setting.

How is hospice care different than other types of care?

With hospice care, a patient’s emotional and even spiritual needs get attention, along with their physical needs. Physical needs might include helping to manage nausea, pain or shortness of breath. A hospice team, which typically includes nurses, social workers, physicians and possibly chaplains or other religious officiants, work together to provide care. Family caregivers often remain at the center of this team.

Who can I talk to about hospice care?

If you have more questions about hospice or if it may be time to explore hospice as an option for your loved one, talk to their medical team or contact a local hospice. The more you know about the benefits of hospice, the more you can help your loved one take advantage of this compassionate, high-quality care when the time is right.