Facts about Hospice Care

5 Comments

There may come a time during a serious illness when efforts to cure or slow the illness in your elderly parent are no longer working and can even be harmful, rather than helpful. If your parent is seriously ill and facing a poor prognosis, you and your family should know that there's a special type of medical care that can help ensure that the final months of life are as good as they can be. This care is called hospice care, and its goal is to give your parent control, dignity and comfort during their final months of life.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice is a specific type of palliative care, which means it focuses on caring, not curing. It provides pain and symptoms relief, helps your parent and your family plan your care, and guides you through the health care system. While anyone at any stage of their illness can receive palliative care, hospice care is for people who may have six months or less to live. Hospice care provides:

  • Pain and symptom relief
  • Bereavement counseling for family members and loved ones
  • Assistance in organizing financial affairs
  • Help in navigating the healthcare system

Who Provides Hospice Care?

Hospice care is provided by doctors who are specially trained in hospice and palliative medicine, as well as a team of caregivers, including nurses, social workers, chaplains, physical therapists, dietitians, volunteers and others.

Will a Doctor Have to Recommend Hospice Care Before a Patient can be Admitted?

Anyone can contact their local hospice provider and request hospice services at any time. The hospice staff will then contact your doctor to determine if hospice is appropriate and work with you to provide care.

When Should Someone Receive Hospice Care?

Anyone who likely has six months or less to live qualifies for hospice care. However, many people wait until death is imminent – weeks or even days away – before seeking hospice care, missing out on months of helpful care for themselves and their loved ones.

What Are Some Benefits of Hospice Care?

Hospice care is patient-focused, which means it helps patients manage the stress and burden of a serious illness. Hospice care manages pain and symptoms so patients can focus on being with loved ones and having some control over how they spend their last months. Hospice care also provides services such as respite care and bereavement support to families.

Where is Hospice Care Available?

Hospice care is available nationwide, and is usually provided at home. It can also be provided in the hospital, in an assisted living center. Hospice also is offered in nursing homes.

Does Insurance Cover Hospice Care?

Many private insurance plans and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) offer hospice and palliative care benefits. Medicare offers the full scope of hospice benefits including medications for pain and symptom management, doctor visits, counseling, and other hospice services, but does not cover the costs of aggressive treatment measures intended to cure an illness. Medicaid coverage of hospice and palliative care is available for people with limited incomes, and benefits vary by state.

How Can A Patient Find Hospice Care?

If you are interested in hospice care, ask your personal doctor to refer you to a hospice and palliative doctor or hospice organization in your area.


The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine is an organization of 3,800 physicians and other healthcare providers who are dedicated to improving the quality of life of patients facing life-threatening or serious conditions, answers questions about hospice and palliative care.

You May Also Like

Free AgingCare Guides

Get the latest care advice and articles delivered to your inbox!

5 Comments

I don't have good feelings towards Hospice. All that do I guess you are blessed. Before I became sick myself,from age 19 to 30's, I worked as a Geriatric nurse in a Nursing Home with some Patients in Hospice. I don't find it just by coincidence that 4 different people with 4 different illnesses died shortly after starting Morphine( Hospice's favorite drug to give).First was my father which was not so bad because he had colon cancer that moved all through his body.He died about a week after they started Morphine. The 2nd was my Mother in Law she had Lupus and heart failure( HF was not in end stages) The Hospice nurse kept recommending Morphine not for pain but to make it easier to breath.If you know anything about Morphine it does not work well in older/sick people. Morphine will just keep building up in their system until it basically OD's them. I believe this is what took place with my Mother in Law. Then just 2 months ago my Grandmother that was living in a Nursing Home with Alzheimer's & Dementia my sister who thought it was a great idea to put her into hospice. I told her right from the start do NOT let them give Grans Morphine unless she gets to be in a lot of pain. My Grandmother did not say she was in pain, her biggest issue was her memory and trouble walking.She was 96! Suddenly my Grandmother went from being up everyday at breakfast until after dinner, to not wanting to get up at all, no longer talking or eating for 3 days. Then my sister decides to tell me she let Hospice start giving her Morphine 3 days before. The Next night my Grandmother died. The Next was just a week ago.. My Mother. About 4 months ago she had her right leg amputated because of diabetes and infection. She was getting along pretty well with just one leg when suddenly the same type of infection started with her left leg. Long story short I just think her Dr didn't want to do anymore for her to have the same result as the right leg. He recommended we use Hospice/Palliative care for her and he also refused to continue to be her Dr no matter what we did. It was documented in my mother's records that she was allergic to Morphine. I was very clear with the Hospice nurse about this from the very start. My mother made me swear I would not let them give her Morphine. My sister was aware of this as well. My mother still had her mind to her, just some days she was a little confused. She signed the Hospice papers for ME to make any medical decisions for her, she felt I knew more from being a nurse then my sister did. Also I told her what my sister did with Hospice and Morphine with my Grandmother before my Mother was in the same place. I also insisted to take my mother to her home not admit her to a Hospice facility as my sister wanted. Just a few things with me in my 40's, I have heart failure,diabetes, and in a wheelchair from a spine issue which I'm in pain 24/7 and take strong medications. I'm still not sure how I did it but I took care of my mother every day except on Monday & Tuesday my sister would stay with her so I could go to my house just a block away and get in my bed to rest. The Hospice called me that Monday afternoon to let me know she would be by to see my mother around 1 or 3pm and maybe but sure the Hospice Dr may come see her as well. This just did not seem right to me because over the last month she had been seeing my mother she let me know almost the exact time she would arrive and it was always on Thursdays before. She knew I went home on Monday. She also told me from the start most like the Hospice Dr would not come out to see a patient in Palliative care unless they were doing very poorly. I had not even been home very long that day, but after that call I just could not rest and decided to call my Son to take me back down to my Mothers. I get there and the Hospice nurse, Hospice Dr and my sister standing around looking like a deer in the headlights. I asked what was the latest about my mother or what was the reason the Hospice Dr could show up? The Hospice nurse tells me that my mother verbally told them she would take the Morphine. I told them right away I knew that was not true that she would never knowingly take it.I said i will go talk to my mother. The Hospice Dr tells me she did say yes she would take it thinking it was medicine to help her breath better but the Nurse told her it was Roxanol. which is geriatric name for Morphine and which my mother had no idea of that when she said yes. I was angry! I told them that i was dead set against Morphine as my mother was and that my sister had no right to even give them the ok to give it to her. My mother passed away less than 10 hours after they gave her Morphine. Another thing Hospice nurses will tell patients and their families it's not the Morphine that kills the patient but they are so certain when a Patient is about to die it's just the timing when they start Morphine. Which I know is just their story like helping to breath better. This goes over great for those people that don't know much about medicine. I know pretty sure my Grandmother and my mother especially was not at that point to die. Mostly with my mother since they were told my mother was allergic and did not want it at all. My Sister, the Nurse and Dr all know they did a dirty thing and are so wrong! I will never trust Hospice or any other "medical professional again". And oh yeah I can't even say anything good about the home care that came 3 times a week. Over that month she only had to bed bath her once that I didn't already have her dressed by the time she showed up at 2 and 3pm. But every time she arrived she complained how busy she had been all day or every time I would ask if she could maybe come the following friday in the Morning because I had a Dr's appointment she would tell me NO that most of her other patients were way more sick than my mother. But funny according to her my mother wasn't that sick but was gone in a month.