The discussion of end-of-life may never be easy, especially when referring to and questioning for a loved one. But hospice can be an invaluable option and decision, providing and ensuring quality care to qualifying individuals. But if wondering when to call hospice, here are seven signs that may initiate and prompt that phone call.
What Does Hospice Mean?
The term ‘hospice’ stems from the linguistic root of ‘hospitality,’ ultimately suggestive of its purpose of offering quality care to individuals nearing end-of-life, not aiming to treat or cure. Upon referral and approval, 24/7 care is provided with a hospice team working around the clock to accommodate all needs. Each personnel receive special training to care for all types of physical and emotional symptoms that may cause pain, discomfort, and other forms of distress. Diseases and conditions commonly cared for include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, heart and liver diseases, cancer, COPD, and other age-related conditions. But considering each displays their own unique characteristics and symptom severities, recognizing the need for additional help, including the thought of hospice, may be difficult.
When to Call Hospice
No matter the age, any person is eligible for hospice care if a physician designates a life expectancy for six months or less. But even without the prognosis, individuals can call when it appears their loved ones have less than six months to live. But aside from justifying care based on identified or assumed prognosis, you may need to consider or call in hospice if you notice any of the following:
- Displaying increased or uncontrolled pain, especially if elevated from a determined or recognized baseline.
- Reducing appetite and desire to eat, which may subsequently result to significant weight loss and changes in body composition.
- Increasing weakness and fatigue.
- Withdrawing from others and heightening confusion.
- Frequenting infections, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits.
- Declining in the ability to perform day-to-day functions, including the simple tasks of brushing hair and teeth, dressing oneself, and transporting to the bathroom.
- Worsening in disease status in spite of medical and more aggressive therapies.
Ultimately, though, you and your loved one have recognized the point of no cure and decide to pursue comfort measures. And rather than actively seeking out disease treatment, there is acceptance and allowance of the natural dying process. For more information on hospice visit the official National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization webpage here.