It is an all too common situation. A family is at the bedside of a loved one who is seriously ill and nearing the end of life. Each member of the family has a different idea of what should be done and what the patient would have wanted.

Far too many people wait until they are in the midst of a health care crisis before thinking about what options are available or what care they or their loved ones would have wanted. Hospice professionals deal with these challenging situations every day — that’s what they are trained to do.

When a family is coping with a serious illness and a cure is no longer possible, hospice provides the type of care most people say they want at the end of life: comfort and dignity. Considered to be the model for high-quality, compassionate care for people with a life-limiting illness, hospice care includes expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support. Care is provided by an inter-disciplinary team of professionals and trained volunteers. The wishes of the patient and family are always at the center of care.

Most hospice care is provided in the home — where the majority of Americans have said they would want to be at this time. Care is also provided in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospice centers.

Care is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans and HMOs.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that more than 1.58 million people received care from the nation’s hospices last year.

“When cure is no longer possible, care always is. Hospice care focuses on helping the patient and family live as best as possible for however long the patient has. Hospice is really more about living than it is about dying,"  said Sarah Dwelley, palliative care coordinator at Pen Bay Healthcare, in a news release.

For more information locally, contact Kno-Wal-Lin’s Hospice and Palliative Care Program at 594-9561 or visit For national information, call the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) HelpLine at 800-658-8898 or visit