When Is It Time For Hospice?
We can’t tell you how many times our nurses, social workers, or volunteers have heard the words, “We wish we would have called hospice sooner. It has made our lives so much better.” When you’re facing a terminal or end-of-life prognosis, you and your family deserve all the support you can get. The hospice model of care is incomparable when it comes to providing that network.Many people mistakenly believe that signing up for hospice means that death is imminent, and they aren’t “willing to give up yet.” In fact, hospice provides comfort and support at every level – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – for patients and their families. Remarkable Fact: Contrary to popular belief, signing up for hospice actually improves life expectancy for many patients. Based on findings from a large cohort of retrospective studies, “Receiving at least one day of hospice care may increase life expectancy by up to three months.” But, of course, we hope that anyone facing a terminal illness would benefit from far more than a single day of our care. Whether you choose hospice care or palliative care options (more on those below), we sincerely hope you find the care you deserve as you and your family navigate this next powerful chapter in your journey.
Signs It’s Time For Hospice Care (The Clinical)Your hospice team wants to be there for you as early as possible so you can reap the benefits of our services and improve your quality of life for the weeks, months, or – sometimes – years you have left. In our post, What is Hospice Care, we outline qualifying factors as well as the three foundational tenets of hospice care. Ultimately, there are only two qualifying factors for a patient to be admitted to hospice care. Those are:
- Diagnosis of life-limiting condition with a prognosis of six months or less if the disease runs its ordinary course (or an acute medical scenario such as heart attack or stroke that has put death on the immediate horizon)
- Failure to improve despite current treatment regime OR the patient wishes to cease curative treatments because they are diminishing their quality of life
- More frequent hospital stays or ER/Urgent Care admissions
- Continuing weight loss (not including edema weight)
- Inability to complete daily tasks independently (bathing, dressing, getting to the bathroom safely, meal preparation, etc.)
- An increase in lack of balance, falls, or near misses
- Changes in cognitive ability (memory loss)
- Breakdowns in skin tissue such as more frequent tears, bedsores, or inexplicable bruising/swelling
Signs You Should Call Hospice (The Heart of the Matter)While all of those clinical signs listed above are important, we believe that the patient and family’s mental and emotional wellbeing is every bit as important (if not more so) as the physical. For that reason, we believe patients and families should contact hospice care providers soon after receiving any terminal diagnosis. When it’s time for hospice, calling and speaking with hospice about the services we provide does not mean you have to sign up; it simply means you are becoming informed of your options. Some of the heart-felt signs you should learn more about hospice include:
- You’re faced with a terminal diagnosis and aren’t sure what to do
- You are tired of feeling sick and tired from continuous treatment attempts and want to learn more about your options
- You are facing a terminal diagnosis and are afraid of death, questioning your faith, worried about your family’s emotional wellbeing, etc.
- The physical discomfort associated with your illness/condition/disease is so great it’s diminishing your quality of life
- You have a feeling you should call hospice
- You prefer to die in a hospice house or at home rather than in a hospital