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77

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer, Version 1.2017

9

Thinking about the unthinkable

What is hospice care? | Review

What is hospice care?

Hospice is a type of care designed to provide medical,

psychological, and spiritual support to terminally ill

patients and the people who love them. The goal is

comfort, not a cure. Many insurance plans will only

cover hospice services if your doctor has said that

your are likely to live 6 months or less and you will not

be receiving treatment designed to cure cancer.

Of note, some forms of treatment may still be

covered if they are being prescribed to relieve pain or

symptoms. Be sure to talk with your doctor and your

insurance company to clear up these issues before

making your decision.

Hospice care is all about your quality of life. Services

can be provided in your home, a hospice facility,

or even in the hospital. A major goal is to keep you

pain-free and make sure that you can leave this world

comfortably and with dignity. Hospice doctors, nurses,

social workers, and chaplains are experts in helping

patients work through the spiritual and emotional

challenges of coping with the end of life.

Because hospice care is focused on making you as

comfortable as possible, the hospice team may stop

medicines that aren’t adding anything to your overall

quality of life. The goal is to ensure that you don’t

have to take any more pills or injections than are

absolutely necessary.

Providing support for family members is a major part

of the hospice approach to end-of-life care. Most

programs offer counseling and support groups for

family members, including support after the patient

has died. This is referred to as bereavement. It can

be enormously comforting to know that your loved

ones will have that kind of support after you are gone.

Review

• Advance care planning is all about making sure

that your end-of-life wishes are understood and

respected.

• You will fill out a legal document that lays out

what you want done if you aren’t able to tell the

doctors yourself (advance directive).

• Your advance directive should also identify a

person who is authorized to make decisions

on your behalf (health care proxy) it you can’t

communicate.

• People find different ways to cope when their time

is limited.

• Hospice is a type of care designed to provide

medical, psychological, and spiritual support to

terminally ill patients and the people who love

them.

• Providing support for family members is a major

part of the hospice approach to end-of-life care.