Do you have a terminal illness? Do you need help with your pain or other symptoms? Do you want to plan for your family after you are gone?

About Hospice

Hospice care offers pain relief, comfort and support to people who are dying and their families. It is one type of care for people who expect to live for six months or less. You can get hospice services in a:

  • Hospice facility
  • Your home
  • Hospital
  • Nursing home
  • Intermediate care facility

If you are 21 or older and choose hospice services, you choose to give up care to treat your terminal illness. You will still get care to treat your pain. You also will get other services, such as counseling.

Talk with your doctor to see if you qualify for hospice services.

Where Do I Call to Get These Services?

Talk with your doctor to see if you qualify for hospice services.

What You Need to Know

Click here to find out other things you need to know about getting help from DADS, including the application process, your rights and interest lists.

Hospice Myths

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Actually, hospice is more of a thing than a place. While some hospitals and long-term care facilities provide hospice services — which can include pain and symptom control, nursing care, social services, emotional and spiritual care, and coordination of care — these services are usually provided in the recipient's home. This allows people to stay comfortable in their final days, surrounded by the people and things that bring them comfort.

One vital part of hospice care is respite services for informal caregivers, to give them relief from the stress that comes from caring for a loved one with a terminal illness. Without help and support, this stress can leave caregivers vulnerable to a wide range of physical and emotional problems, ranging from heart disease to depression.

According to the American Cancer Society, this mistaken belief can prevent people who could benefit from hospice from considering it. Hospice is about making the patient's final days as painless as possible. The main focus of hospice is keeping the recipient comfortable.

While cancer patients are certainly a part of the hospice population, hospice serves a broad range of patients. Other people commonly served by hospice include those with diseases of the heart and lungs, AIDS, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and Alzheimer's. The only qualification for receiving hospice services is a diagnosis of terminal illness from a licensed physician and a prognosis of six months or less to live.

While pain relief is part of hospice care, and that can include sedation, the main aim is to keep the recipient comfortable — not unconscious.

Hospice care can indeed be expensive. A ballpark rate for the Austin area is about $156 per day for in-home care — a figure that covers personnel costs, all medications related to the terminal illness. Even so, hospice is usually less expensive than care in a hospital, nursing home or other institutional setting.

However, hospice services may be paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs, private insurance plans, HMOs or other managed care organizations. Additionally, hospice services may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or both.

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Updated: September 30, 2015