Hospice: What It Is and What It Is Not

The couple was devastated, having just learned that the wife had cancer. She was experiencing pain and shortness of breath, and there was no treatment available. They felt hopeless and out of control, and that life no longer held meaning.

They were lost, until talking with their neighbor—an experienced hospice nurse. She offered to tell them about the hospice option of care.

Hospice focuses on quality of life for people in the last six months of life. it specializes in making them more comfortable by decreasing pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, shortness of breath and other discomforts.

Hospice recognizes people’s emotional, spiritual and physical needs, and so offers care through a team designed to address those needs: social workers, chaplains, certified nursing assistants, nurses, physicians, volunteers and grief counselors. Care is provided “wherever one calls home,” including private homes, apartments, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. inpatient hospice care is available for people in physical crises. Hospice staff accompany patients an loved ones through the patient's dying and death, and support loved ones for 13 months after the patient has died.

Hospice is not:

  • A place where people go to die
  • A place where hospice patients live
  • A team that provides 24-hour care; family and friends are supported in providing this care
  • Care that hastens death, nor is it care that prolongs dying
  • A decision that cannot be changed; hospice care can be cancelled at any time

After learning about the hospice option of care, the couple felt more in control and were
then able to spend their energy doing what brought joy to their lives.

By Karen S. White, RN MTS
Lutheran Hospice Nurse Liaison

>>It's About How You Live

Lutheran Hospice at the Collier Hospice Center provides programs and services to meet the needs of the terminally ill and those who love them. For more information, call 303-425-8000 or visit lutheranmedicalcenter.org/hospice.