Hospice care is a “gold standard” for end-of-life care. Hospice focuses on the patient’s quality of life and pain management, or palliative care, as its core objectives. The hospice philosophy and care response emphasizes the patient’s dignity and choices. In addition, family education and guidance means support before, during, and after death for loved ones and caregivers. Hospice care is valuable for both patients and their loved ones. However, hospice is not widely used in most states and when it is, dying patients commonly have the support of hospice care for less than a week. This is needless suffering when 70% of Americans report that they want to be at home with loved ones at the end of their life, but health care resources and the family ability to respond often outweighs patients’ wishes. We need information and collaboration with physicians to suggest hospice services to patients sooner rather than later. If a physician does not offer hospice as an option to end-of-life care, the patient or their advocate, family, or caregiver should start the discussion.
Making a decision for hospice services is not a loss of hope. When your physician finds that there is no cure or further treatment available for a terminal diagnosis, we can find new focus for hope: the hope for compassion at the end of life; the hope to be surrounded by loved ones and not emotionally abandoned; the hope to be pain-free and comfortable; the hope to be able to share one’s legacy and be told that their life mattered; the hope to be loved unconditionally and cared for with dignity.