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November is National Hospice Month

My father died last week, and I am still so very sad. But amidst the shock and the grief, there was one positive thing: my father had the benefit of hospice care for the last three days of his life. Typically, most patients enter hospice when their illness has six months to run its course. My father’s case was anything by typical. His final terminal diagnosis had come just three days before he died. My father, and our whole family, had to move through the typical stages of death and dying much quicker than most. But through those last few days, we were all comforted that he received treatment from the pain and a gentle, compassionate care from the Hospice professionals.

For my father, his hospice treatment was definitely about relieving the pain and easing as slowly into his death as possible. But, for others, hospice is about living. This November, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Foundation (NHPCF) is helping to educate people about how hospice care brings comfort, dignity, and peace to help people with a life-limiting illness live every moment of life to the fullest. Here, according to NHPCF, are ten facts you may not know about hospice.

1. Hospice is not a place; it’s high-quality medical care that helps the patient and family caregivers focus on comfort and quality of life.
2. Hospice is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, most insurance plans, HMOs, and managed care plans. Fear of costs should never prevent a person from accessing hospice care.
3. Hospice serves anyone with a life-limiting illness, regardless of age or type of illness.
4. Hospice serves people of all backgrounds and traditions; the core values of hospice—allowing the patient to be with family, including spiritual and emotional support, treating pain—cut across all cultures.
5. Research has shown that the majority of Americans would prefer to be at home at the end of life’s journey—hospice makes this possible for most people.
6. Hospice serves people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
7. Hospice patients and families can receive care for six months or longer.
8. A person may keep his or her referring physician involved while receiving hospice care.
9. Hospice offers grief and bereavement services to family members and the community.
10. To get the most out of what hospice offers, it’s better to have care for more than just a few days.

That last point is a difficult one for me, as my father’s illness moved so quickly that he didn’t have the benefit of hospice for very long. But, in the end, I am so glad he did. Hospice made my father’s death as comfortable as possible. And, though we never want our loved ones to die, one thing we would want if we could control it is for them not to die in pain. I thank Hospice care for that, and I will never forget it.

To learn more about Hospice care, to make a donation, to become a Hospice volunteer, or to locate a Hospice in your area, please visit
National Hospice and Palliative Care Foundation
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