Monday, April 23, 2012

Hospice Care Guide - Questions & Answers - Part Two

Pathways will be sharing the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding hospice care beginning with our last post on April 18th.   

Can we visit our own doctor?

Yes.  Your primary care doctor remains your doctor under hospice care.  Your doctor gives us direction about your care.

Will someone come to stay with us?

No.  Hospice does not provide shift care or 24-hour care.  Team members make visits. But a nurse is available by telephone 24-hours a day and can come at any time if a visit is necessary.

Do I have to give up my medications?  

No.  Hospice will pay for your medications that are related to the terminal diagnosis.  If there are medications that hospice does not cover, you can continue to get them and take them as you always have.

How will hospice manage pain if it occurs?  

Hospice usually treats pain aggressively.  We know that pain interferes with eating, sleeping, visiting and general quality of life. Uncontrolled pain can also shorten life.

The patient and family are always in control of their care and can decide how they want to treat pain.

Will my loved one be asleep all the time?   

Not usually.  Some diseases cause the patient to be less alert.  If pain is severe, pain medicine may make a patient sleepier than usual for two or three days, then they will be as alert as the disease lets them be.

Does hospice do anything that will make my life shorter or longer?    

No.  Hospice tries to improve life in the final months or weeks, but does not try to shorten or lengthen life.  Research shows that with the extra care from hospice people who go on hospice usually live longer than those who do not.

What about help with practical things like grocery shopping?   

You can have a volunteer if you like.  Volunteers can help you with practical matters such as shopping, or they can stay with your loved one while you go out.

What if caring for my loved one at home becomes too much for me to do?    

If you feel you cannot continue caring for the patient at home, the hospice social worker can assist you to find a skilled nursing facility or residential care facility.

Be sure to check back in with us next week for the next part of our blog series on commonly asked hospice questions and answers.  

At the end of the blog series we will post a downloadable PDF with all of the questions and answers covered in this blog.

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