When to Call Hospice

Hundreds of times each year, patients and families tell us: “We wish we called hospice sooner.” Patients and families can benefit most from hospice care when they seek support earlier rather than in a crisis.

Will our physician tell us when it’s time for hospice?

Not always. Some physicians hesitate to bring up hospice because they sincerely want to preserve hope for a cure. Frequently, they will continue to pursue treatment because they think that’s what the patient and family want. In other cases, such as with congestive heart failure or lung disease (COPD), it may be difficult for them to predict the rate of a patient’s decline. When a doctor does mention hospice care, he or she is simply presenting an option for comfort, which in many cases may actually lengthen life by increasing the quality of the time remaining. It is important that you and your doctor talk openly and share the same goals for maintaining quality of life.

What are some signs that a person may be ready for hospice care?

  • An increase in pain, nausea, breathing distress or other symptoms
  • Repeated hospitalizations or trips to the emergency room
  • Failure to “bounce back” after medical set-backs occur
  • Decrease in function requiring assistance for walking, eating, bathing, dressing and/or going to the toilet
  • Decreasing alertness – patient is emotionally withdrawn, sleeping more or having increased difficulty with comprehension
  • Significantly decreased appetite and weight loss

What are some signs that our family could benefit from hospice?

Caring for yourself as a caregiver is one of the most important things you can do. How do you know if you or your caregivers could benefit from hospice care?

  • You or your caregivers are physically and/or emotionally exhausted from caring for you or your loved one.
  • Your family is feeling isolated because of caregiving demands or the uncertainties you feel about your loved one’s future.
  • You or members of your family appear to need emotional support to cope with the sadness of the situation.
  • You are overwhelmed by the myriad of physical, financial, emotional and spiritual concerns arising because of the illness.

Can we call Hospice if we are not sure if it’s time?

Absolutely. An important part of our mission is providing guidance to families about any end-of-life care issue, whether or not they’re on our program. You don’t need a physician referral to call us for information. If it appears that hospice care would be beneficial, we will, with your permission, contact your doctor to discuss it.

 

To make a referral click here: Make a Referral