What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is designed to provide care to patients at the end of life. The term originates from the same root as “hospitality,” the idea of providing shelter to a sick or weary traveler. According to the American Cancer Society, “Hospice provides humane and compassionate care for people in the last phases of incurable disease so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible. . . .

It seeks to enable patients to continue an alert, pain-free life and to manage other symptoms so that their last days may be spent with dignity and quality, surrounded by their loved ones.” To qualify for hospice care, a physician must deem the patient “terminal.” This designation is legally defined as “a six-month life expectancy assuming the disease runs its normal course.”

Hospice care is usually provided in a patient’s home, although it may also be provided in a nursing home, hospital, or private hospice facility. If your condition improves or you would prefer to again receive more aggressive treatments, you can be discharged from hospice care at any time with the option of returning in the future. For more details about the types of hospice care available, call the American Cancer Society or see their website at www.cancer.org.