When is it Time for Hospice Care?

There comes a point when families and patients must decide whether it is time to enter hospice care. There are a number of factors to consider, 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, will make for a more comfortable end-of-life period.

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.

When is hospice care recommended?

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Care Organization suggests that though difficult, 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 10 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:

Photo by Alex Guillaume

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