After you decide to stop treating the cancer, you may feel good for an extended period of time. But eventually you may need help controlling pain or other symptoms and staying strong. Hospice care offers physical, emotional, and spiritual support at a hospice center or in your own home. Hospice care is covered by most health insurance companies during the last 6 months of life. If a person lives longer than 6 months in hospice, insurance usually covers an extension.
Hospice tries to improve the end of life by providing:
- pain relief and other medical supportive care
- psychological and spiritual support for you and your family
- help with daily tasks such as bathing and dressing
When you're in hospice care, nurses and home health aides visit you as often as needed. They become your main source of direct medical care. Your doctor usually still oversees your care and will provide advice and prescriptions as needed.
Hospice helps many families move through several stages — from urgently searching for answers, to medical care, to the acceptance of what has been and what will come. It can help you and your family find peace and comfort, not only with death but with life as you have lived it.
Locating a hospice program
Your insurance company can give you names of hospice services covered by your plan. You also can ask your doctor if there is a hospice with which he/she prefers to work. The Hospice Foundation of America or the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization can provide more information on hospice care and help you find the name of a hospice provider in your area.
Questions to ask when choosing a hospice
- How long has the hospice been in operation?
- Can we speak to one or more families who have used this hospice service?
- What types of insurance does the hospice accept?
- What, if any, out-of-pocket charges can we expect?
- How often do hospice staff members make home visits?
- social worker?
- home health aide?
- Does the hospice have an inpatient facility?
"As I made the transition from fighting the cancer to treating the pain and problems from the cancer, I have felt better than I have in years. I am truly at peace with my decision. I know it was the right decision."