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What is Hospice: Hospice 101

To begin, there are many myths about hospice care that need to be dispelled. People think that hospice is a place, that it’s very expensive, limited to the elderly and that people die faster while they are on hospice. They also believe hospice care means forgoing medical treatment and that it is only used for the last few days of life or that a person can only receive care for a maximum of six months. This is simply not true.

                Hospice is a service that focuses on the comprehensive care of patients with terminal illnesses. Hospice need not be a place but rather a service that offers support, resources and assistance to terminally ill patients and their families. The main goal of hospice is to provide a peaceful, symptom-free and dignified transition to death for patients whose diseases are advanced beyond a cure. The hope for a cure shifts to hope for a life free of suffering. The focus becomes quality of life rather than its length. Hospice care is patient-centered medical care. A host of valuable services are offered to address every aspect of the patient's care as a whole.

                Hospice is specifically for individuals with a terminal diagnosis, whereas palliative care is for individuals at any stage of illness. Hospice care is a treatment option that does not not include aggressive, curative treatment while palliative care can occur in conjunction with aggressive treatment.

                Services provided include nursing, medical social work, counseling, volunteer and administrative services provided by the hospice MD. Hospice can also be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, Managed Care and commercial insurance plans.

                In many chronic and progressive conditions such as cancer, heart disease and dementia, the natural disease process can ultimately reach an end stage. Most of the time, as a disease progresses to an advanced stage, its symptoms become more intolerable and difficult to control. As a result, an end-stage condition can significantly impair a person's functional status and quality of life. Dying is part of the life process, and for many dying persons, life’s experiences still have significant meaning and importance. With proper care, support and planning the time remaining for a dying person and their family can be comfortable and enjoyable.

Location: Ascend Hospice, 65 Jackson Drive, Suite 103, Cranford. For more information, call 908-931-9068 or visit


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