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When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made and who should make it?
Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?
When does a patient start receiving hospice care?
Is the home the only place hospice care can be delivered?
What if our physician doesn't know about hospice?
Is hospice only for cancer patients?
Must someone be with the patient at all times?
How difficult is caring for the dying one at home?
Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what is happening?
Is hospice affiliated with any religious organization?
  Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
 
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  • When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made and who should make it?
    At any time during a life-limiting illness, it's appropriate to discuss all of the patient's care options, including hospice. By law, the decision belongs to the patient. Understandably, most people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping and all-out effort to "beat" their disease. Hospice staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and are always available to discuss them with the patient, family and physician.

  • Should I wait for our physician to raise the possibility of hospice, or should I raise it first?
    The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other healthier professional, clergy, or friends. Individuals may also call the hospice office nearest to them for information.
  • When does a patient start receiving hospice care?
    One of the first things hospice will do is contact the patient's physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate as this time. The patient will also be asked to sign consent and insurance forms, similar to the forms signed when they enter a hospital. The hospice election form says that the patient understands that the care is palliative (that is, aimed at pain relief and symptom control) rather than aimed at seeking a cure. It also includes the services available.

  • Is the home the only place hospice can be delivered?
    No. Although most hospice services are delivered in a personal residence, many patients live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.
  • What if our physician doesn't know about hospice?
    Most physicians know about hospice. If your physician wants more information, it is available by contacting the hospice office nearest you or the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization helpline, at 1-800-658-8898.

  • Is hospice only for cancer patients?
    No. Anyone whose illness is known to be life-limiting and has six months or less to live is eligible for hospice care. Hospice care is available for patients with terminal heart disease, lung disease, Alzheimer's, kidney failure, liver disease, a senile dementia to name a few.
  • Must someone be with the patient at all times?
    It depends. Many patients, especially if they are receiving hospice care early in the illness, are able to be left alone. Since one of the most common fears of patients is the fear of dying alone, we generally recommend that later on someone be there continuously.
    While family and friends must be relied on to give most of the care, hospice provides volunteers to provide a break and time away for major caregivers.

  • How difficult is caring for a dying loved on at home?
    It's never easy and sometimes can be quite hard. At the end of a long, progressive illness, nights especially can be very long, lonely and scary. Hospice staff is available around the clock to help family members problem solve and to visit should an emergency arise.
  • Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
    Hospices will do nothing either to speed up or to slow down the dying process. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, so hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.
  • Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
    Certainly. If improvements in the condition occurs and the disease seems to be in remission, the patient can be discharged from hospice and return to curative therapy.

  • Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what is happening?
    Usually not. It is the goal of hospice to help patients be as comfortable and alert as they desire. By constantly consulting with the patient, hospices have been very successful in reaching this goal.

  • Is hospice affiliated with any religious organization?
    Hospice care is not an offshoot of any religion. While some religious organizations have started hospices (sometimes in connection with their hospitals), these hospices serve a broad community and do not require patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs.
  • Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?
    Hospice provides continuing contact and support for family and friends up to 13 months following the death of a loved one through such services as personal contacts, phone visits, and self-help literature. Support groups addressing issues related to grief and loss are also available in some service areas. Contact the hospice nearest you regarding the availability of any of these services.
 
 
 
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