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What is Hospice Care: Everything You Need to Know and More

November 1, 2021
Hospice care help create a comfortable environment for people in the final stages of life and their family members.

When an elderly has a terminal illness, there might come a point where loved ones should make arrangements that will make the senior's life comfortable. This improvement usually has something to do with hospice care.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is a service for those with either terminal illness or is nearing the end of life. Another term for hospice care that you may have heard of would be end-of-life care.

Hospice care provides comprehensive care for a person who has a terminal illness or has an incurable disease. This situation is common among elderlies, although it is not necessarily exclusive.

Opting for hospice care ensures that the person is at their most comfortable during the extent of their lives. They get everything from medical care to even counseling, including for the family.

Whatever time remains with the patient, it would be best to make them as comfortable as possible.

When Should Hospice Care Start?

When figuring out when a person should be in hospice care, it would be best to seek a professional's opinion. This can be the senior's attending physician or a hospice care doctor.

Regardless, it would help if you start considering hospice care when someone has an incurable or terminal illness.

Factors that can determine when hospice care should start would be if the person:

  • Have less than six months left to live should the illness run its course
  • Has a rapidly declining quality of life after treatments fail to improve health
  • No longer wants treatment to extend their life

It is essential to have these discussions early on. That way, your elderly loved one gets as much of the improved quality of life that hospice care provides before they pass.

What are the Four Different Levels of Hospice Care?

Hospice care doesn’t only happen in an inpatient hospital or inpatient hospice stay. Hospice care has four levels, depending on your preferences and situation.

Routine Home Care

The common level of hospice care is routine care. Regular home care helps patients to be with their families and is the best choice for that reason.

The primary care provider would usually be a family member, while a hospice care team would regularly visit. This often involves monitoring a patient's condition and whether his symptoms are improving or not.

Routine home care has scheduled visits with the hospice care team, but they can also come on an unscheduled visit depending on their needs. One can still have an around-the-clock nurse with them if they need to while in routine home care. It’s best for people who have more manageable symptoms.

Continuous Home Care

Continuous home care is ideal if the patient needs around-the-clock supervision. Often, this is recommended for patients with severe physical and mental symptoms.

The reason for the excruciating pain can be acute. So, a person can have continuous home care and then revert to routine home care once the ongoing pain or symptom has eased.

Continuous home care is for patients whose pain or symptoms don’t ease even with routine home care. If the elderly's condition worsens or a mental health issue crops up, the patient may need to move to inpatient care.

General Inpatient Care

General Inpatient Care is for people whose symptoms aren’t manageable at home, and they need constant and immediate medical care.

Being in an inpatient facility provides convenience. Hence, family members would choose general inpatient care even though they can easily be in continuous home care instead.

There will be constant medical attention available in an inpatient care facility with their in-house staff. Your hospice doctor and primary care provider can help you and your family decide which option suits your needs.

Respite Care

Respite care is less for the patient and more for the family caregivers. Respite care is a temporary hospice care situation when a family caregiver cannot look over the patient for a moment for many reasons.

If the primary family caregiver needs to travel or wants to rest, they can avail respite care for a moment. After all, a person can’t care for someone else if they don’t take the time to look after themselves.

Depending on the arrangement, the patient can check-in and stay for five days in a hospice, a hospital, or a skilled nursing facility.

Where Can You Get Hospice Care?

As you can see, where hospice care is delivered will depend on the situation or level of hospice care that one has availed. Of course, it might also change depending on the conditions of the person in hospice care.

However, people opt for routine home care, so hospice care often happens at one’s home.

The family is usually responsible for the overall caregiving of the person in hospice care when they stay at home. The in-house staff or nurses can assist said primary caregiver, especially in the cases of medical emergencies.

As mentioned before, if the senior's condition worsens, a patient might transfer to inpatient care.

Seniors who live in assisted living communities can also get hospice care.

What Services are Available in Hospice Care?

If you're considering hospice care, you might be wondering what to expect in such a facility.

The services available will depend on the arrangements that your family can come up with. However, here are some standard services available in hospice care:

Symptom Control

The biggest reason people want to be in hospice care would be the supportive care they receive to treat their symptoms.

Symptom control is not about curing whatever illness the person suffers from. Instead, it’s about treating the symptoms and other conditions that come with the disease.

Reducing the effects of these very unwanted symptoms is one of the most significant factors contributing to the person’s quality of life. Outside of hospice care, it can be more challenging to track and treat these symptoms adequately and with preparedness.

Counseling Services

Hospice patients and their loved ones are going through a lot, and it differs every day. Therefore, many hospice care facilities provide counseling services to patients and their families.

The mental toll that usually happens in these situations is also a problem that one can encounter here. Counseling services help ease the mental load for both family and the person in hospice care.

If the family or person in hospice care is religious or spiritual, they can also get religious or spiritual counseling

Spiritual Care or Service

Aside from counseling, the patient and his family can also receive spiritual care in a hospice center.

Spiritual care is one way to improve an elderly's quality of life. Meanwhile, it allows the family to prepare themselves for the worst.

Respite Care

Respite care is all about the betterment of the primary caregiver’s state. Without hospice care, the primary caregiver might have to make several arrangements with family or friends to get the break they need. In a hospice facility, though, that option is readily available to the primary caregiver when they need to.

All-around Care Coordination

Without hospice care, it’s usually a struggle to coordinate between various service providers to cater to the needs of an elderly loved one.

Hospice care helps coordinate these all together. Instead of arranging counseling and doctor’s appointments yourself, hospice care can be your go-to stop for everything.

How Much Does Hospice Care Cost?

How much hospice care will cost varies depending on your arrangements.

You can consult with a hospice planning attorney to help you with legal matters and financial issues related to hospice care. For the most part, though, much private insurance has hospice coverage. If you’re on a government insurance program such as Medicare, you also have hospice coverage.

Make sure to double-check your plan's eligibility rules when it comes to hospice care to ensure that you get covered 100%.

What’s the Difference Between Hospice Care and Palliative Care?

Many people confuse hospice care with palliative care. The reason is that hospice care includes palliative care, which is all about curing symptoms. The latter also has something to do with looking for treatments.

On the other hand, hospice care is for people with a severe illness and nearing the end of their lives. They help with easing symptoms and providing relief in any way, but they are not for those with a cure for their illness.


One must consider hospice care as soon as a doctor brings it up. That's because the quality of life in a limited time can help make things easier for the patient and his family.

Hospice care can help ease any burdens that the senior suffering from a terminal illness has. It also allows the family to stay organized and coordinated in catering to the needs of their elderly loved ones.

Another factor to consider is whether the patient has a prognosis of six months at most.

Sure, it is best to find treatment for an elderly's diseases. However, patients would opt to spend their remaining days in comfort. And opting for hospice care allows you to do that.

The best part is that the service extends to the members of the family. So, when worse comes to worst, you would not feel alone.

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