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Senior Citizen's Guide to Pittsburgh

Hospice FAQ's

Q. What is hospice?
A. Hospice allows a terminally ill patient to spend their last days at home, in familiar settings, with their loved ones. Hospice focuses on maximizing the quality of remaining life by addressing the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of terminally-ill patients and their families. Care is delivered in the home or inpatient setting and is provided by a medically directed interdisciplinary team, including a physician, nurses, social workers, clergy, home health aides, therapist, and any number of volunteers. Bereavement support is provided to both families and caregivers.

Q. Is hospice care covered by insurance?
A. Hospice coverage is widely available. It is provided by Medicare nationwide, by Medicaid in some 42 states, and by most private health insurance policies.

Q. Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?
A. Hospices do nothing either to speed up or to slow down the dying process. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.

Q. How does hospice "manage pain"?
A. Hospice nurses and doctors are up-to-date on the latest medication and devices for pain and symptom relief. In addition, physical and occupational therapists assist patients to be as mobile and self-sufficient as possible, and they are often joined by specialists schooled in music therapy, art therapy, diet counseling, and other therapies. Hospice believes that emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so it addresses these as well. Counselors, including clergy, are available to assist family members as well as patients.

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