How long will Hospice come out to see your family member?

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My father-in-law begins Hospice next week. How long will Hospice come out? My understanding is it is 6 months or less. Is that correct? Does anyone know what happends if it goes past 6 months? Past a year?
I feel it is too soon for Hospice but his nurse practioner who comes to his house signed the form. I have helped care give for 3 other people and while he certainly sick, I feel he needs additional caregiving but that Hospice is extreme.
So what happends 6 months or a year from now if he does not pass? Does Hospice just keep coming and the perscription is renewed? Thanks.

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Joyce, how old is your father-in-law and what are his medical problems? What is his present quality of life?

I'm not an expert but here's how I understand it.

People aren't approved for hospice unless the doctor believes that their life expectancy is six months or less. The hospice staff usually are very good at estimating when that time has arrived. Thereafter, hospice makes sure that they receive the care they need to be comfortable and pain free, but they no longer receive life-prolonging measures or unnecessary treatments. When my father was approved for hospice, they stopped doing tests that gave him pain, stopped giving him medications that were hard to swallow, and just made him comfortable for his remaining months of life. He had been on hospice for about five months when he died. He had no specific medical condition like cancer --- he was very old and just slipping away. The diagnosis was "failure to thrive."

If, God willing, a person suddenly actually recovers from whatever condition was expected to end his life, he might be taken off of the hospice program and go back to whatever treatment was prescribed before. But that's the same as "being cured." There's no cure for old age.

However, if he simply lives longer than expected, but still needs pain control and comfort, he would remain on hospice. My uncle, a tough old bird, lived with terminal cancer more than a year longer than expected; but the cancer was definitely terminal and he received hospice care to the end. Probably there were periodic medical reviews.

Anyway, as I understand it, hospice isn't a benefit with a limited number of days of covered treatment like days in a rehab facility --- it's a program to help dying people and their families through the last stage of life, which may be either less or more than six months.

We were so grateful to the hospice nurses and attendants who cared for my father. They were gentle and reassuring, and a nurse stayed with him around the clock when they believed the end was near. She was with him and my mother when he died. She stayed with my mother for a few more hours, and comforted her until everything that had to be done, was done and she was sure my mother was all right. I say, if your father-in-law is approved for hospice, accept what they offer.
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