Elderly woman with her dogHospice care is for people in the final phase of a terminal illness. It is provided when a patient’s diagnosis is measured in months, instead of years. Hospice focuses on comfort and quality of life, rather than cure. The goal is for patients to be comfortable and free of pain, so that they live each day as fully as possible.


Hospice care may include:

  • Counseling and support to the individual and his/her family;
  • Home and personal assistance; and
  • Emotional and spiritual care.

Hospice care is typically provided in the home. However, it can be provided in other settings such as hospice care centers, hospitals, and long term care facilities.

Hospice Care vs. Palliative Care

In some cases, palliative care services are more appropriate for people dealing with chronic illness, such as cancer, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and other neurological diseases. Palliative care focuses on pain relief and it can be used at any stage of illness, not just the advanced stages. Unlike hospice care, there are no time restrictions on service. Palliative care can be provided at home, but it is most common to receive palliative care in an institution, such as a hospital, extended care facility, or nursing home.

How does hospice care work?

  • Hospice services are available to individuals of any age.
  • The hospice team develops a care plan that meets each person's individual needs for pain management and symptom control.
  • Hospice staff is on call 24/7 and make regular visits to assess the individual’s care needs.

How do I pay for hospice?

Many health insurance plans cover hospice care, and most hospice programs offer a sliding fee scale. Health insurance providers may require a doctor’s certification of life expectancy of no more than six months. It is important to check on insurance coverage limits for payment.

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