What Is End-of-Life Care?

What Is End-of-Life Care?What is End-of-Life Care?

None of us will live forever and, while most of us opt not to think much about the end of our lives, when we do stop to consider our final days, our best hope is to go as peacefully as possible.

End-of-life care is healthcare provided with that precise goal in mind: making a person’s final days as comfortable as possible.

In most cases it takes the form of hospice care, but in those cases where people don’t see the end coming, end-of-life care can mean following an advance directive.

Hospice Care

In most cases where someone refers to end-of-life care, they’re talking about hospice care. When a person, their loved ones, and their doctor all recognize that the point has come where death is likely imminent and pushing it off with preventative measures will only cause more suffering, then it’s time to consider switching over to hospice care.

In some cases, this is a decision that the ill person is actively involved in. In cases where the person has dementia or another form of illness that affects their ability to understand the situation they’re in and make an informed decision, it will fall to the closest family members and their doctor.

It’s important to understand that hospice care shouldn’t be seen as a negative. It’s not giving up. If someone is moved into hospice care and bounces back, it’s possible to switch back to health care more focused on healing.

The point of hospice is to allow people the chance to switch their focus to comfort rather than prioritizing getting better at all costs. Many illnesses involve treatments that are painful, and there are situations where certain types of painkillers are best avoided when the goal is to get better, where they could significantly ease someone’s suffering if their primary goal switches to comfort.

Hospice Home Care vs Inpatient Care

Patients who prefer to die in their own home have the option of calling in hospice to come to their house. For patients who reach the point of needing hospice while staying in a nursing home or another inpatient facility, hospice will also attend to them there.

Medicare does cover hospice care, so most families should be able to afford it. One caveat is that they’ll often cover either hospice care or a nursing home stay, so if a patient is staying at a nursing home under Medicare, then hospice care may cost them extra.

In any case, the whole goal of hospice is to help people die on their own terms in the most comfortable way possible. Whatever the setting, they offer compassionate end-of-life care to those who need it.

Advance Directives

In most cases, hospice care kicks in at a point where people are able to plan for death and prepare themselves. Not everyone gets that chance though. Some illnesses and injuries put a patient in the position of no longer being able to advocate for themselves and what kind of end-of-life care they want.

That’s where advance health care directives come in. If you want to be sure you have a say in your end-of-life care, take the time to create an advance directive. It will ensure your family knows what you want and can carry out your wishes when the time comes, if you’re not able to advocate for them yourself at that point.


For many people, the day will come when accepting that death is near makes more sense than continuing to fight the inevitable. When that day comes, end-of-life care can make one’s remaining days as painless as possible. Both hospice care and advance directives give patients power over their care options at a point when their power can feel limited otherwise. How you spend your final days should be up to you, end-of-life care is designed to help you achieve that.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.


  1. Janet Clementson June 9, 2016 Reply

    My Father is presently in Skilled Nursing. He would like to be able to leave and be in a home environment for the remainder of his life. The problem is, after a terrible set of circumstances, Dad has court appointed Guardian and Conservator. Both are hostile to myself and my sister. The charges from the billing from the Guardian and Conservator have contributed to what has led to bankruptcy. He is on Medicaid. When the Conservator turned in the initial paperwork regarding the future plans for what will happen with the projected expenses for Dad, it was rejected by the court. The Judge rejecting it, said it was unacceptable for the Guardian to be billing for 81% of Dad’s retirement income. And, for the Conservator’s charges being 21%! The Conservator didn’t meet the 1st, 2nd or 3rd deadline to hand in a revision. This man’s last communication from blamed ME for causing such distractions, so many problems for him, that this was causing him to not be able to get the revision completed. This is not so. He credited himself for work he’d done to find additional help/funds that were available for Dad from the VA! When, in fact, it was my research that found what was available (Aide and Attendance, etc.). Knowing that I could not set things up for Dad myself (mainly because the Conservator would yell at me every time I called him). I communicated all the information I had found out (about what programs that were available to financially help Dad), with the Conservator via email. I also included in the emails all the links with the VA Benefits websites I had found to the Conservator. He credited himself for several other things I done. After submitting this to the Judge, he was granted approval for the charges! Basically, the Guardian and Conservator have complete control over our life. Do we have the right to insist that Dad be able to pass away at home? Any recommendations for how to proceed? If you need to know, we live in Denver, Colorado. Thank you for reading about our troubles. I hope you can help, or give us ideas about how to proceed.

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