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Hospice is a service to support a terminally ill patient’s physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Hospice concentrates on managing a patient’s pain and other symptoms so that the patient may live as comfortably as possible and make the most of their remaining time. Hospice also supports the patient’s family and caregivers, including grief and loss counseling.

Another advantage of hospice is that a hospice nurse can declare death and facilitate transportation to a mortuary. If someone dies at home and you call 911 and there is no DNR, paramedics may attempt emergency procedures.

Typically hospice care is provided in the patient’s home, with the majority of the day-to-day care falling on family members and caregivers.

Medicare will pay a set fee to qualified hospices for care of those with a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live. To stay on hospice, Medicare requires documented continued decline. Medicare will cover medications related to the terminal diagnosis and medical equipment, but will not pay for treatments intended to cure a terminal illness or treatments unrelated to the terminal diagnosis. The Medicare hospice benefit does not cover room and board in a nursing home or hospice residential facility. Some hospices provide extra services such as aroma, music therapy, etc. Some hospices have volunteers for extra support.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan you may be limited to hospices approved by the Medicare Advantage Plan.

You have the right to change your hospice provider once during each benefit period.

Questions to ask when selecting a hospice.

  • The Inescapable Truth September 2, 2019
    Opponents of assisted dying often use as an argument that assisted dying is not necessary because good quality palliative care can alleviate suffering at end of life. This report from England concludes that 17 people a day suffer at the end of their lives, despite the best efforts of hospice and palliative care. In research commissioned for ...

  • Hospice didn’t stop suffering. But what it did for us was priceless. March 27, 2019
    by Dheeraj Raina, MD, psychiatrist  – Kevin MD – March 27, 2019 A physician explains the good death and the comfort that hospice provided to his young wife and their family as she was dying from cancer. “Two of the most emotionally essential services that hospice provided was a chaplain and a social worker specializing in counseling ...

  • Even the best palliative care can’t always help September 19, 2013
    Neil Frances explains even the best palliative care possible simply can't help alleviate intolerable suffering for some.

  • Letting Go-What should medicine do when it can’t save your life? August 2, 2010
    By Atul Gawande – The New Yorker – Aug. 20, 2010 “Our medical system is excellent at trying to stave off death with eight-thousand-dollar-a-month chemotherapy, three-thousand-dollar-a-day intensive care, five-thousand-dollar-an-hour surgery. But, ultimately, death comes, and no one is good at knowing when to stop.” “People have concerns besides simply prolonging their lives. Surveys of patients with terminal ...

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