National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, November 2011

By proclaiming November 2011 as National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization encourages every American to increase our understanding and awareness of care at the end of life and to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs.

Most of us have heard about hospice care.  We know that hospices care for people at the end of life. Many of us know a family or friend who was helped by hospice when faced with the serious illness and death of a loved one.  But there is so much more to know.

For example, did you know that hospice provides what the majority of Americans say they want at the end of life ~ excellent pain management, comfort, and support for the patient and family caregivers?

Here are ten more things you should know about hospice:
  1. Hospice is not a place but a special kind of care.
  2. A hospice care team is made up of doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, spiritual care providers, trained volunteers and other skilled professionals who provide high-quality, compassionate care. 
  3. Hospice care is available to people of all ages with any kind of life-limiting illness, including cancer, advanced Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS and other life-limiting illnesses.
  4. Hospice care is fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans and HMOs. 
  5. Hospice provides all medications and medical equipment needed to keep a person safe and comfortable.  
  6. There is no limit to the amount of hospice care a person can receive; it is available as long as a physician believes a patient is eligible. 
  7. Most care is provided at home, but hospice is also available in nursing homes, assisted living and long term care facilities and hospice inpatient units.  
  8. Hospice care can include complementary therapies, such as music and art, to bring additional comfort to patients and families.
  9. Hospice programs offer grief support to the families they care for as well as to others in the community who are grieving.
  10. More than 1.5 million people receive hospice care every year.  
One of the most common sentiments shared by families who have been helped by hospice care is, “We wish we had known about hospice sooner.”

To find out if hospice might be right for you or your family, or to learn more, you can

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