Knowing When to Call Hospice

Far too many people equate “calling hospice” with the last few days or hours of life. Unfortunately, this misperception means that patients and their families may miss out on weeks to months of services and support that can greatly improve quality of life. Exploring hospice care services before they’re needed can help with decision-making when the time comes.

How Will I Know It’s Time to Call Hospice?

If you or a loved one has been given a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness or is showing signs of significant decline, it may be time to call hospice. Signs of decline may include frequent trips to the emergency room, not recovering as expected from health-related events, or reduced level of appetite, alertness, or self-care.

Making the call doesn’t mean that you’ve given up. Instead, it is an opportunity to learn more about eligibility and available services. Then you’ll be prepared and have a plan to help decide when it’s time and how to take full advantage of all of the benefits and support that hospice can provide.

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Why Would Someone Need Hospice?

Hospice care is typically offered to patients and their families when life expectancy is six months or less. This may be for someone with a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness or when age and health conditions indicate that the individual is approaching end of life.

Hospice is about quality of life at end of life, rather than trying to get better. Hospice services are usually indicated when care efforts are focused on managing pain and other distressing symptoms rather than treating or curing an illness or condition.

Hospice providers specialize in providing compassionate patient care and in helping families navigate the emotional, financial, and day-to-day concerns associated with the impending loss of a loved one.

What Are Hospice Services?

Hospice services may include skilled nursing care for pain and symptom management, as well as nonclinical assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and grooming. Hospice can help with obtaining and setting up medical equipment, supplies, and medication. Other services – including spiritual and emotional support, companionship, and assistance with light housekeeping and errands – can make all the difference.

How Can Hospice Help?

Hospice helps the entire family, from addressing the cost and concerns associated with caring for a dying loved one to providing the actual patient care.

Hospice care and service are provided wherever the patient calls home. This includes everything from a private home to a senior living community such as assisted living or memory care to a clinical setting such as a hospital or skilled nursing center.

Will the Doctor Tell Me When to Call Hospice?

Your loved one’s doctor may suggest hospice, especially if providing a life-limiting diagnosis. Healthcare providers, however, often take their cue from patients and family members, and if there seems to be a strong focus on a cure, they may hesitate to raise the subject of hospice. Asking the doctor about hospice may open the door for candid conversations about realistic expectations and options, and ultimately provide access to services and support much sooner.

What Are the Advantages of Calling Hospice Now Rather Than Later?

If you think that end of life is approaching, it’s worth having the information you need before a crisis happens. You’ll want to find a hospice provider that can respond 24/7 on any day of the year, just in case.

During your conversations you can learn about what to expect, what services are available, and what documentation you may need from the doctor for eligibility. Knowing that you have a caring team ready to help when needed can reduce anxiety and ease the transition when the time comes.

How Do I Choose the Right Hospice Provider?

During this challenging time, you want a hospice team that will treat you and your loved one like family. You want caring professionals who can help your entire family. You want customized care that is designed specifically for your loved one and their diagnosis.

If you think you or a loved one may be eligible for hospice care, please contact us today. We’re here to help.

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