Hospice and Palliative Care

The World Health Evaluation (WHO) defines palliative care as the active total care of patients whose disease does not respond to curative treatment. Its goal is to achieve the best possible quality of life for the patients and their families. It addresses the control of pain and other symptoms in addition to any psychological, social and spiritual issues. For patients with advanced stages of the life-threatening forms of Ataxia, palliative care in the home or in a nursing home can be provided by a hospice program. In order to obtain care from a hospice, a patient must have a doctor’s referral indicating that the life expectancy of six months or less if the disease runs its “normal” course. The hospice may also require a signed statement from the patient and doctor which includes a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order. Hospice is covered by most private medical insurance policies and is part of the Medicare part A and Medicaid plans. Referrals and resources are available upon request.