Hospice is probably the last thing you want to hear when a doctor talks to you about your aging parent’s care. When you hear “hospice,’ you may think of death, dying, or giving up. But hospice is so much more and you don’t want to wait until a doctor mentions the word before you start typing it into your Google toolbar.

So what are the facts? What do you really need to know about hospice care?

1. Hospice is specialized care.

The hospice medical team includes physicians, nurses, emotional and spiritual support, counseling, home care aides, volunteers and bereavement specialists who have received special training in caring for people during the last six months of their life. They have the knowledge, skills and experience to help individuals and their families emotionally and physically through care.

2. Hospice is about celebrating life.

Hospice care neither hastens nor postpones death; rather, it affirms life, helping individuals and their families to get the most out of life. Instead of focusing on life-saving and potentially painful treatments, hospice providers help individuals live their final months how they want to—whether that means leaving the hospital and going home, spending moments with family members, or sharing or capturing their life history. Hospice providers and volunteers all help individuals fulfil what matters to them most.

3. Hospice care is a Medicare benefit.

Tabitha Hospice care is provided at no cost to qualified individuals and has been included as a Medicare benefit since 1983. This means there are no out-of-pocket costs for qualified individuals. In addition, Medicare hospice benefits cover the cost of associated medications, durable medical equipment and a variety of nursing and support services.

4. Hospice care treats the entire family.

If your loved one is enrolled in hospice care, so are you. Hospice caregivers from nursing staff to spiritual support, counselors and bereavement specialists, help families cope with their loved one’s illness during and, in the case of Tabitha Hospice, for a full 18 months following a death. Many hospice providers offer grief support groups, remembrance services, and even just an assuring hand during a hard time.

For more information about hospice care, visit these online resources.

And to learn more about how Tabitha pioneered hospice care in Nebraska by offering the state’s first end-of-life program, visit us at www.TabithaHospice.org.