When to Call Hospice
There is one thing that we have heard consistently among those who have sought hospice care—they wish they had gotten it sooner.
Sadly, many people wait far too late to call hospice—in some cases, they only receive hospice services for the last few weeks of life.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to determine when to contact hospice. Delay can mean unnecessary suffering, so it’s vital to understand when to make a decision.
When Should You Call Hospice?
Hospice should be called when treatment has stopped and there is six months or less to live.
The sooner hospice is called, the sooner patients and families can get the support and comfort care they need.
It’s important to remember that patients who are in hospice care have decided not to continue treatment for their condition. As a result, the disease will run its natural course.
What Symptoms Indicate That It’s Time To Contact Hospice?
If the person you love has a serious, life-limiting illness and is experiencing any of the following, you should speak to your health care team about finding a hospice in your area:
- Frequent visits to the ER
- Difficulty performing tasks of daily living such as getting dressed, bathing or using the bathroom
- Recurring hospital admissions
- Frequent falls
- Changes in mental abilities
- Chronic infections
- Dramatic weight loss
- Frequent skin tears
What If I Call Hospice and I Change My Mind?
That’s okay. Anyone can discontinue hospice care if they decide to seek medical treatment for their illness. This is called curative care.
Those in hospice are not seeking treatment for their conditions, they are only seeking care to manage symptoms.
Sometimes, their condition improves or they decide to seek a different type of curative treatment.
Hospice care can be discontinued at any time.
However, if their condition declines, they are also able to resume hospice at a later date if they’d like to.
How Do I Contact Hospice?
First, do some research about the hospices in the area near you. You’ll want to determine if you will use a nonprofit or for-profit hospice.
While most insurance companies, along with Medicare and Medicaid, offer some type of hospice benefits, only a nonprofit hospice will provide care regardless of your ability to pay. This is something you should consider when selecting a hospice.
Physicians, nurses, or other members of your health care team may have additional information about hospices in your area.
Once you have a located a hospice, you will need to get a referral.
Don’t worry, it’s very simple.
You see, anyone can refer someone to hospice. Patients can be referred by physicians, neighbors, relatives—and they can even refer themselves.
Simply contact the number provided by the hospice and a member of the team will schedule a time to meet with you and your family.
What Happens After I Call Hospice?
Once you call hospice, a care team is put in place. This team includes not only doctors, nurses and nursing assistants, but also social workers and chaplains. Specially trained hospice volunteers can also be a part of this team. They all work together to provide comfort care designed to manage symptoms during these last months of life.
Once the care team is in place, you can expect regular visits as they create a customized plan to help care for you or your loved one.
Remember, patients in hospice enjoy a much higher quality of life, and many are able to participate in activities they once enjoyed. Many also often live longer once they are in hospice care, which is another reason why it’s so important to contact hospice as early on in the process as possible.
Learn More Through Hospice Wise
We’ve created an extensive library of information on this site, covering everything from the top questions about hospice to common myths and misconceptions surrounding hospice care.
We created this site because we believe that not enough people have information on hospice that is easy to locate and understand. We wanted to create something that would help those seeking hospice care or for those who just wanted to learn more.
If you discover that it’s time to call Hospice, we can help you find the best hospice provider near you. It will take just 30 seconds and you’ll earn access to our curated list of the best hospice providers in your state.