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Senior Resources » Hospice Care » Senior Resource Glossary of Hospice Terms

Senior Resource Glossary of Hospice Terms

hospice word

Hospice care is medical support for those who are nearing the end of life. Patients whose life expectancy is 6 months or less begin treatment that is focused on comfort and symptom management. Care is provided with a goal of quality over quantity.

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Let’s learn all the common phrases and definitions associated with hospice care.

Types of Hospice Care

Routine Home Care – Care that is provided wherever a patient lives by a team of nurses and other aides when a patient is not in a current state of medical crisis. The care team makes frequent home visits to administer custodial and medical services. Routine home care may include skilled nursing, on-call health professionals, therapeutic care, pain management, medication, and medical supplies.

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Continuous Home Care – Care that is necessary when a patient needs a nurse for longer than 8 hours a day in addition to other routine home care services. It is usually provided when a patient is experiencing severe symptoms including trouble breathing, constant vomiting, or pain that has become hard to manage or unmanageable.

General Inpatient Care – Care that is recommended when symptoms become too severe to manage at home. It is usually intended for short-term support. The goal is to get the patient back in the comfort of their own home as soon as possible.

Respite Care – Care for patients who receive most of their hospice care from family members. Respite care is when a person is allowed a short-term inpatient stay at a hospital or other facility for the sole purpose of giving their primary caregiver a break. After a period (usually about a week) the patient returns home.

Terms To Know

ADL – Activities of daily living such as dressing, eating, personal hygiene, and toileting.

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Advance Directive – a written statement of a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment. It often includes a living will.

Alzheimer’s – A progressive brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, and the ability to perform tasks

Ambulatory – This term relates to the ability to walk or move. When used in reference to care (ambulatory care), it usually means outpatient.

Custodial Care – Non-medical or personal care.

Dementia – A chronic memory disorder that affects memory and thinking. Personality changes and impaired reasoning are common.

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IADL – Instrumental activities of daily living. Much like ADLs, but those that require more complex thinking, such as managing one’s own medication.

Memory Care – Refers to medical or personal care specifically for those who have conditions that affect their memory, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Feeding Tube – A tube that is inserted through the nose, down the throat, and into the stomach for administering liquids and liquid food.

Healthcare Proxy – Durable power of attorney (POA). A legal document that appoints an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to make your own decisions due to incapacity.

Medical Power of Attorney -A legal document that names one person the health care agent of another person. 

Nursing Service – Healthcare provided by a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN).

Palliative Care – Medical care for those living with a serious illness. Care that provides relief from the symptoms and improves the quality of life.

Skilled Care – Care that can only be administered by a licensed medical professional. Skilled care can include therapy, medication, wound care, and other services provided by nurses and doctors.

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Related: Best Ways To Pay For Home Care Services

Caregivers & Other Professionals

Bereavement Coordinator – A professional who works with and provides support to families who have lost a loved one in hospice care.

Chaplain – A religious professional who listens to and provides spiritual support for patients and their families.

Caregiver – Anyone who regularly looks after and provides assistance to a person who is sick, elderly, or disabled.

Companion – A broad term used to describe friendship, support, and assistance from either a service or a loved one.

Family Caregiver – A spouse, relative, friend, or neighbor who provides assistance and support for either a short-term or long-term.

Health Aide – A licensed medical professional that cares for a patient in their home

Home Care Aide – A professional who provides in-home custodial care such as help with activities of daily living (ADL).

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Hospice Aide – A professional trained to provide personal care assistance, home care, and other duties during hospice care at home.

Hospice Social Worker – Social workers who are trained to evaluate the well-being of patients and support their wishes.

PCA – Personal care assistant. A professional who provides non-medical care such as assisting with activities of daily living.

Professional Caregiver – A person whose career is based on providing assistance, care, or support. They can be nurses, physical therapists, personal care assistants, and many more.

Skilled Nurse – A licensed nurse that can provide skilled nursing care.

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Originally published May 11, 2022

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