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What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is a form of medical treatment that focuses on comfort care as opposed to curative care. This means the patient has reached a stage in which they are terminally ill and will likely die within 6 months if the disease follows a normal course. This kind of treatment is also referred to as palliative care. The goal of hospice and palliative care is not to cure the disease. Instead, we try to make the patient as comfortable as possible. This is done by using services such as: pain management, spiritual care, daily assistance, and bereavement care.
What makes hospice truly unique is that hospice does not just treat physical symptoms. Spiritual and bereavement counseling are also offered to help patients and families deal with the emotional symptoms of end of life care. Bereavement follow-up is also available to the family for 12 months after the patient passes.
Hospice care started as a volunteer-based movement to assist patients who were dying alone, but now it has grown to be a major piece of the American healthcare system. As a Medicare benefit, hospice care includes medications, 24/7 care, medical equipment, and family support. All these features can be administered in the patient’s home, in a hospital, in an assisted living facility, or just about anywhere a patient lives.