Don't Wait to Talk about the Care You Would Want

Aug 06, 2013, 10:30 ET from National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

NHPCO Encourages Families to Learn about Hospice before a Medical Crisis

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A family is huddled out in the hallway of a hospital questioning what to do for a loved one with a terminal illness. Each family member has a different idea of what should be done or what the patient would want. Additional stress and tension are added to an already difficult situation.

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This is a common story that health care professionals see every day, reports the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, an organization working on behalf of end-of-life care providers.

"Feeling unprepared to cope with an illness at life's end can leave a dark shadow over the death of a loved one that can linger long in the memory of family and dear friends," said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of NHPCO.  "No one wants to think they might have done more after a person is already gone."

Far too often, discussions of hospice and palliative care happen too late or not at all.

One recommendation offered by professionals who care for the dying would be to learn more about hospice and palliative care long before you or your loved one might need it.

Both hospice and palliative care provide expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support.

When a cure is no longer possible, hospice provides comfort, dignity and helps maximize quality of life – for the patient and family caregivers. Palliative care brings the same model care to a patient earlier in the course of an illness and can be provided along with other treatments that may still be underway.

Most hospice care is provided in the home. Care is also provided in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospice centers. Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance plans.

NHPCO reports that more than 1.65 million people received care from our nation's hospices last year.

"After 30 years in hospice, one of the most frequent comments I've heard from families is 'why didn't we get hospice sooner,'" Schumacher said.

To learn more about hospice and palliative care, or to find a hospice in your area, visit NHPCO's Caring Connections at

Jon Radulovic
NHPCO Vice President of Communications

SOURCE National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization