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When is it time for Hospice?

Updated: Nov 14, 2021

Hospice care is a type of health care that focuses on the palliation of a terminally ill patient's pain and symptoms, while attending to their emotional and spiritual needs at the end of life. Hospice care prioritizes comfort and quality-of-life by reducing pain and suffering .

Many people are fearful of making the decision to sign on to hospice. Making matters worse, some physicians refuse to have this conversation with patients and families, or they make the referral very near to the end of life. Most patients and families can benefit greatly from hospice much sooner. To help make the decision, I have a partial list of criteria that must be met before the patient is deemed eligible for hospice care. This list may also serve as a guide for families and loved ones to consider before making that difficult decision.

1. The patient has a terminal illness that, if not aggressively treated, will cause death.

2. The patient requires assistance with three or more activities of daily living. These may include needing assistance with walking, bathing, feeding, dressing, and toileting.

3. The patient’s nutritional status has declined — For example: losing more than 10% of body weight within four to five months.

4. Increasing emergency room visits.

5. A significant functional/cognitive decline.

If three or more of these problems exist, the patient is meeting the universal criteria and is eligible for hospice.

It can’t be stated enough, hospice is not “Giving Up.” It is simply coming to terms with the fact that the terminal disease is not treatable. Hospice is a service offered to terminally ill patients that provides healthcare in the comfort of your own home/environment. It allows for compassion and dignity while attending to the medical needs of the patient — while allowing for the comforts of home and being surrounded by loved ones.

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