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Is Now the Time for Hospice?

It can be a difficult end of life choice to grapple with, but there comes a point when families and patients must decide whether it is time to enter hospice...

Knowing When Hospice is the Right Choice

It can be a difficult end of life choice to grapple with, but there comes a point when families and patients must decide whether it is time to enter hospice care or continue to seek curative medical help.

Hospice is often misunderstood. It is a type of treatment – not a place – and can be provided in many settings including the home, assisted living, hospitals or a stand-alone hospice facility. It is covered by Medicare after a doctor determines how long a patient is likely to live.

There are a number of things to consider as you weigh this decision, including whether treatment is no longer effective. It is a difficult decision, but experts agree that choosing to enter hospice while the patient has more time to benefit from the care it provides will make for a more comfortable end-of-life period. It is often the case that when a patient begins receiving hospice care, their health improves as more attention is put on providing relief from their symptoms.

What is Hospice Care? 

Hospice care is used when a disease gets to the point that treatment can no longer cure or control it. According to the American Cancer Society, many people avoid hospice because they think it is “giving up” and don’t realize they can leave hospice to pursue active treatment again at any time. The misconception means most people don’t enter hospice soon enough. Hospice care means the patient will not receive treatment to cure their disease but will receive palliative care to make them more comfortable.

When is Hospice Care Recommended? 

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Care Organization suggests that though challenging, it is best to begin asking about hospice care before it is needed. The following are some questions to consider:

Does the Patient Have Six Months or Less to Live? 

This determination, made by a doctor, will make the patient eligible for Medicare coverage. As this article from Next Avenue explains, when a doctor certifies the hospice coverage, it sets in motion a range of services.  

More Frequent and Difficult Health Issues 

The American Senior Communities blog lists ten signs it may be time for hospice including frequent ER trips, problems with pain management and difficulty with daily tasks.

Difficulty Maintaining Nutrition and/or Hydration 

According to the ALS Association, those who have issues with breathing, eating and mobility may want to discuss the option with their doctor and family.

Resources on Hospice Choices 

Patients and families will want to learn as much as possible early on to determine the best choice for end-of-life care. The following websites have tips on how to choose the best hospice care for you or your loved one:

For answers to common questions about hospice, visit our article: 5 Questions About Hospice Care: Facts vs. Fiction.

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