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Hospice organizations serve individuals who face end-of-life illnesses or injuries, and provide support to their families.

The hospice approach includes palliative care, which is designed to prevent and relieve suffering through pain management.

The heart of hospice philosophy is to put the individual at the center of the care plan. The patient is not defined by their disease, but recognized as a human being with unique needs and desires.

There’s been tremendous progress over the past ten years in providing continuity of care for individuals at the end of their life, whether in their own home and in other facilities. This continuity of care is helpful to the patient not only on an emotional level, but also on the physical and financial levels.

Quality of Life and Longevity

There are still many myths and misconceptions that linger on about hospice care. Some people equate hospice or palliative care with “giving up.” However, recent research published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management shows that the opposite is true.

In this study, people who received hospice care lived an average of 29 days longer than those who did not take advantage of this end-of-life support. So managing pain and increasing a person’s level of comfort not only improves their quality of life, but can also help extend the length of their life.

Discovering Your Options

Hospice care is often provided in the patient’s home. There are also a broad range of hospice organizations, including nonprofit hospice centers, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and for-profit organizations.

Medicare, Medicaid, HMOs and most private insurance plans cover hospice care. It’s important to find out what type of hospice care is available to you or your loved ones under your health plan. Your doctor or social worker can help you understand the choices.

Hospice Care Resources

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has an excellent resource directory for helping you identify a provider with the right fit for you.