Hospice for Cancer
Hospice is designed to provide comfort care for patients with life-limiting illnesses. With cancer being one of the most prevalent illnesses in the United States, cancer patients account for a larger percentage of hospice patients than any other diagnosis.
What is Hospice?
Hospice care offers all patients the opportunity to spend their last days as comfortably as possible, with support and care that includes loved ones as well. In general, hospice care is available when patients are expected to live six months or less if their disease progresses at its typical rate.
The majority of hospice care in the US is covered by Medicare, the federal health insurance program. Medicare will cover:
- Medical and nursing services
- Prescription drugs for symptom control and pain relief (but not treatment of the disease)
- Medical equipment like wheelchairs, walkers, or hospital beds
- Medical supplies like bandages and catheters
- Speech therapy, physical therapy, or occupational therapy as needed
- Social worker services
- Grief counseling for patient and family
Benefits of Hospice for Cancer Patients
Hospice care for cancer patients is focused on relieving the symptoms, the pain, and the stress associated with a terminal cancer diagnosis. Hospice professionals are trained to provide assistance with not only physical issues, but also mental, emotional, social, and spiritual ones as well.
Patients can enter hospice care when it has been determined that their cancer can no longer be controlled, and treatment for the disease is stopped. Rather than cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation, medicines to control common issues like nausea, shortness of breath, and constipation can be provided. Since each patient is unique and their symptoms differ, hospice care is individualized.
To be eligible for hospice care, a cancer patient generally must have a terminal diagnosis with a remaining life expectancy of less than six months if the disease progresses at its typical rate. Hospice care may be available for cancer patients who meet one or more of these criteria:
- Notable, unintentional weight loss
- The cancer has metastasized, spreading beyond the first site
- The cancer progresses to a more advanced stage despite treatment
- The patient wishes to stop treatment to cure the disease
- The patient’s desire is to stay out of the hospital if the disease gets worse
- The patient has a comorbid medical condition – another serious medical issue that may accelerate the normal pace of the cancer
- The patient needs help to accomplish basic living tasks
The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, provides valuable information on the subject of hospice care. Here is a summary:
Hospice care and palliative care are not the same thing. Hospice care is focused solely on relieving symptoms and providing end-of-life support, while palliative care can include ongoing cancer treatment.
Entering hospice care is not indicative of giving up hope. Instead, its focus allows patients and their loved ones to focus on quality of life for the remaining time.
Hospice care can be provided in different places. While hospice care often takes place at home, it can also be provided in inpatient facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes.
Hospice professionals and volunteers are specially trained to deal with physical, mental, and emotional issues. End-of-life care involves special challenges for the patient and their loved ones, so hospice workers must have the ability to assist with those needs.
Hospice support is available for months. While the typical understanding of hospice is that it lasts for six months, patients who exceed that time period are eligible to re-enroll if the medical team agrees that their condition is still life-limiting.
Your physician and a hospice medical director must both certify that your life expectancy is six months or less. Additionally, the patient must sign a statement agreeing to hospice care.
A patient can stop hospice care if they choose.
Hospice Care in Las Vegas, NV
If you or a loved one are dealing with a life-limiting illness, you may be wondering if it is time for hospice. If so, call Shining Light Hospice, an experienced provider of hospice care in Las Vegas. Our caring hospice professionals can explain your options, address any concerns, and help you find the resources you need to navigate the end-of-life care process.
Shining Light Hospice Care was founded out of compassion and deep personal experience with end-of-life suffering. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you.