Hospice care is intended for patients with a terminal diagnosis and a life expectancy of six months or less. Patients entering hospice care must have ceased curative treatment for their illness, so the goal is to relieve pain, treat symptoms and manage end-of-life issues. Veterans may be diagnosed with a terminal illness related to their previous military career or an illness such as cancer or COPD that developed on its own.
Hospice patients receive comprehensive care tailored to their specific needs. Since family members often serve as primary caregivers, a hospice care team can help relieve the burden and provide education for administering proper care. Spiritual and emotional support can relieve suffering for both the patient and their family to make this process as painless as possible. Bereavement counseling can help family caregivers deal with the death of their loved one. Three Oaks Hospice provides up to 13 months of bereavement counseling after the patient’s death.
For veterans with severe illness who haven’t reached the terminal stage but require more assistance than family members and friends can provide, palliative care is another option. During palliative care, patients receive many of the same services as during hospice, but curative treatments may continue.