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Hospice Care- End of Life Care

Hospice care is end-of-life care provided by health professionals and volunteers. They give medical, psychological and spiritual support. The goal of the care is to help people who are dying have peace, comfort and dignity. The caregivers try to control pain and other symptoms so a person can remain as alert and comfortable as possible. Hospice programs also provide services to support a patient's family.

Usually, a hospice patient is expected to live 6 months or less. Hospice care can take place

* At home
* At a hospice center
* In a hospital
* In a skilled nursing facility

Hospice, in the earliest days, was a concept rooted in the centuries-old idea of offering a place of shelter and rest, or "hospitality" to weary and sick travelers on a long journey. Today, hospice care 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.

Hospice care is suitable when you no longer benefit from cancer treatment and you are expected to live 6 months or less. Hospice gives you palliative care, which is treatment to help relieve cancer-related symptoms, but not cure the disease; its main purpose is to improve your quality of life. You, your family, and your doctor decide together when hospice care should begin.

One of the problems with hospice is that it is often not started soon enough. Sometimes the doctor, patient, or family member will resist hospice because he or she feels it sends a message of no hope. This is not true. If you get better or the disease goes into remission, you can be taken out of the hospice program and go into active cancer treatment.

You can go back to hospice care at a later time, if needed. The hope that hospice brings is the hope of a quality life, making the best of each day during the last stages of advanced illness.

Hospice is a philosophy of care. Hospice care can be given in the patient's home, a hospital, nursing home, or private hospice facility. Most hospice care in the United States is given in the home, with a family member or members serving as the main hands-on caregiver.

The hospice philosophy or viewpoint accepts death as the final stage of life. The goal of hospice is 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. Hospice affirms life and does not hasten or postpone death.

Hospice care treats the person rather than the disease; it focuses on quality rather than length of life. It provides family-centered care and involves the patient and the family in making decisions. Care is provided for the patient and family 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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