Is it time for hospice care?
Many patients and families express the wish that they had become involved with hospice care sooner. Hospice can be of great help and comfort in the final weeks or even months of life, not only the last few days of life.
Hospice provides expert comfort (or palliative) care – which provides the patient with state-of-the-art pain control and symptom management. It enables patients to focus on living life as fully as possible, offering days free from pain. With hospice services, most patients have the option of remaining in the home with their loved ones. Should remaining at home not be the best option, we offer hospice services in area nursing homes and hospitals as necessary.
The decision to receive Hospice services can begin when a patient’s physician determines that the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less. However, hospice care does not end after the initial six-month period, if it is still needed. Patients are constantly re-evaluated and care can extend as long as patients are being served appropriately under their hospice benefit.
Patients and families can initiate discussions about hospice care with their physician. Often physicians will welcome the opportunity to have a conversation about hospice, especially if the patient initiates it.
If you are considering hospice care but unsure if the time has come, here are some signs you can look for to help determine if it maybe time to approach the hospice decision.
- Does it seem that treatment is no longer helping?
- Are there repeated visits to the ER or hospital?
- Is there increased shortness of breath, fatigue, pain, or nausea?
- Does the patient seem more distant, withdrawn or sleeps a lot?
- Does the patient struggle more and more with activities like walking, eating, bathing, dressing or going to the toilet?
- Is the process of care giving becoming overwhelming?
- Do members of the family seem to need emotional support to cope with the situation and decline in the patient’s condition?
- Is the caregiver duties feeling isolated?
- Would it seem beneficial to have someone to talk to?
If hospice seems like an appropriate option, we encourage you to speak with your physician. We are also happy to schedule an in-home evaluation, at no cost, to help determine if it is time for hospice care.