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Hospice care

Palliative care - hospice; End-of-life care - hospice; Dying - hospice; Cancer - hospice

Hospice care helps people with illnesses that cannot be cured and who are nearing death. The goal is to give comfort and peace instead of a cure. Hospice care provides:

Most hospice patients are in their last 6 months of life.

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Making the Decision to Start Hospice

When you choose hospice care, you have decided that you no longer want care to try to cure your terminal illness. This means no longer receiving treatment that is intended to cure any of your chronic health problems. Common illnesses for which this decision is made include cancer, and severe heart, lung, kidney, liver or neurologic illnesses. Instead, any treatment provided is intended to keep you comfortable.

Starting hospice care changes the way you will be receiving care, and it may change who will be providing the care.

What Hospice Care Offers

Hospice care is given by a team. This team may include doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, aides, clergy, and therapists. The team works together to give the patient and family comfort and support.

Someone from your hospice care team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide any support or help you, your loved one, or your family needs.

Hospice care treats the mind, body, and spirit. Services may include:

The hospice team is trained to help the patient and family with the following:

Where Does Hospice Care Take Place

Hospice care most often takes place in the patient's home or the home of a family member or friend.

It also may be given in other locations, including:

The person in charge of care is called the primary care giver. This may be a spouse, life partner, family member, or friend. In some settings the hospice team will teach the primary care giver how to care for the patient. Caring could include turning the patient in bed, and feeding, bathing, and giving the patient medicine. The primary care giver will also be taught about signs to look for, so they know when to call the hospice team for help or advice.

References

Arnold RM. Palliative care. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 3.

Medicare.gov website. Medicare hospice benefits. www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/02154-Medicare-Hospice-Benefits.PDF. Updated March 2020. Accessed June 5, 2020.

Nabati L, Abrahm JL. Caring for Patients at the End of Life. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 51.

Rakel RE, Trinh TH. Care of the dying patient. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 5.

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Review Date: 1/12/2020  

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 06/05/2020.

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