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What is Hospice Care?

Learn what hospice care is and when it is called for. Seniorly offers guidance on how to know when the time is right to find and evaluate hospice care services.

By Emma Rodbro · Updated Aug 08, 2022

Most people, at some point in life, will know someone who uses hospice care. Whether that person is family or a friend of a friend, hospice touches many lives. But what is hospice care, really?

According to the Hospice Foundation of America, hospice offers “medical care toward a different goal: maintaining or improving quality of life for someone whose illness, disease or condition is unlikely to be cured.”

Hospice (sometimes called end-of-life care) comes in to assist when a patient is at the end of their life, when they want to be at home for their final days and need help with quality of life issues, or when their caregivers need assistance.

The care provided by hospice is provided by trained professionals, so that each patient and family can rest easy, knowing that the care is appropriate and administered in an expert manner.

Hospice care also addresses grief support for the family of the person receiving hospice care. There are many complex feelings that can accompany the choice to engage in hospice care and, of course, with a death in the family. Hospice providers are experienced in navigating difficult conversations with compassion.


What specific services are provided?

A sampling of the types of services provided by hospice care include:

  • Administration of the appropriate medications, especially those that make the patient most comfortable
  • Services required to manage pain and any symptoms related to a terminal illness
  • Short-term inpatient care
  • Short-term respite care
  • Needed medical equipment
  • Grief counseling for the family


Where can a patient receive hospice care?

Hospice can be provided in a variety of settings — a patient’s home, an assisted living center, a nursing home, a hospital, or a family member’s home. Basically, anywhere a patient is living is a suitable place for a patient to receive hospice care.


Is hospice covered by insurance?

Hospice is often covered by insurance, even Medicare and Medicaid. In order to qualify for hospice, a doctor handling the patient’s care must recommend it, and the patient must agree to it. Hospice is only recommended when it is generally agreed that the patient’s care is unlikely to extend beyond six months. The patient’s insurance will dictate which hospice services are covered.


Why is hospice important?

Studies show that by 2020, approximately 127 million people in the United States will be living with a chronic illness. Today, seven out of 10 Americans die from a chronic illness.

According to a 2010 study, patients who received palliative care experienced less depression, experienced a better quality of life and lived, on average, more than two months longer than those who did not receive such care.

One of the advantages of hospice care is that it cares for the family as well as the patient. Respite care, counseling and therapy are all services that hospice care provides.


How can a patient find a hospice provider?

A physician or medical care facility is usually the first contact for a patient or family looking for hospice care. There are also national hospice locators, such as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, which can help find a hospice provider.

Seniorly can also help you find local communities that specialize in hospice care. Call us today to speak with a local senior living expert and we'll connect you with the type of care that's right for your family. You can reach us at (415) 570-4370.

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written by:
Emma Rodbro

Emma Rodbro

Head of Growth Operations at Seniorly, MA in Social Work with focus on aging from UC Berkeley.
View other articles written by Emma

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