Shared by Dr. John R. Patterson, Medical Director for Sentara Hospice Services. 

Caring for a loved one when they’re ill can be a stressful and emotional experience for the whole family, and it’s hard sometimes to know what else might be available for comfort and support. Too often families who could have benefited much sooner from Hospice care just didn’t know it was an option.

With the belief that knowledge is power, and in hopes of helping even one family, here are some commonly asked questions and answers about Hospice and when it’s the right thing to do.

John R. Patterson, MD, FAAHPM

What is Hospice?

Hospice begins at the point when someone has a disease or illness that no longer responds to treatment or the opportunity for a cure no longer exists. The goal transitions from treatment to improving comfort and quality of life – and to providing dignity in death. Sometimes hospice care can get confused with palliative care. The difference is that palliative services occur when a patient is still in active treatment and is a means to help patients understand their condition, manage pain and make important decisions about their illness.

Where are Hospice services provided?

Hospice isn’t a place, but a special kind of care focusing on relief of pain, symptom control and spiritual or emotional support. Care goes out to the patient and family  caregivers in the home or wherever their place of residence is.

What types of conditions might Hospice be a fit for?

Hospice can benefit those suffering from a disease where their life expectancy is six months or less.

What’s the biggest misconception about hospice care?

Hospice is not about “giving up.” It’s that stigma that keeps many patients and families from reaching out and getting connected to these valuable services as early as they  could. Hospice is about quality of life and making the wishes of the patient and family caregivers a priority.

Learn more and get connected to Sentara Hospice Services by calling 1-888-461-5649.

Read one women’s personal journey as a hospice family member who then became a hospice nurse.

The Sentara Hospice House, building a home away from home.