End-of-Life Care

Hospice care is provided to people with a limited life expectancy, usually no more than six months. Patients may choose to leave hospice and return to a different form of medical treatment.

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The philosophy of hospice care is to provide assistance and support for people in the final phases of life – to affirm life while allowing death to take its course. Hospice care treats the person, not the disease, by managing symptoms so a person’s last days may be spent with dignity and comfort. It is often a family-centered service that includes the patient and the family in making decisions.

Hospice Care Is Provided by an Interdisciplinary Team

  • Specially trained hospice physician or medical director
  • Hospice nurses
  • Home health aides
  • A social worker
  • A chaplain

Hospice care is provided through the Medicare Hospice Benefit or private insurance. Hospice helps arrange payment for patients who are not eligible for Medicare and are uninsured. 

For information read Medicare and Hospice Benefits.

Advanced Directives

Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to transcribe your personal wishes and goals for medical treatment at end of life. You can also choose people who can make decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions so that your wishes can be carried out the way you want.

Advance directives are not just for people with cancer or people who are dying. Many people have them in place so that their personal decisions can be carried out in medical emergencies.

Medical power of attorney allows another individual to make decisions for someone who is not physically capable of doing so. This may also be known as durable power of attorney for health care, health care agent, or health care proxy.

Power of attorney gives an individual the right to act on behalf of another person in financial or real estate issues.

Living wills hold information about how a person wants to be treated medically if they cannot speak for themselves. Living wills are also called directive to physicians, healthcare declaration, or medical directive. They tell families and health care staff what kind of life-sustaining care the person wishes to have such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, artificial nutrition and hydration, or dialysis.

DNR or Do-Not-Resuscitate orders must be written by a physician, although they can be written at the request of patient or family. A person with a valid DNR will not be given cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if their heart or breathing stops. DNR orders can be written for hospital care or for patients who are being cared for at home. If you or your loved one has a DNR signed by a physician, be sure that it is put where the emergency medical personnel can see it or those caring for the patient at home can find it quickly and easily. 

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