Does My Loved One Need Hospice Now

Often, deciding when hospice is appropriate is not always a clear and easy decision. Many factors should be considered. To be eligible for hospice care, one must have a life expectancy measurable in months and be seeking palliative (comfort) rather than curative care. The life-limiting condition may be due to a specific disease or a combination of illnesses. One may have experienced multiple emergency room visits, or recent hospitalizations to treat the symptoms of the illness.

Making the Decision to Use Hospice
As the course of an illness progresses despite active treatment, one may begin to question the value of the treatments and begin to evaluate the benefit of continued treatment in relation to its increasing burden. This correlation often becomes more apparent when the rate of one’s improvement has declined or stopped.

Some Questions to Ask
Hospice emphasizes autonomy and respects individual desires for active treatment. By answering the following questions, one – or one’s family – can decide on the best care option.

  • Will various treatment options and interventions increase the length and quality of life?
  • What will happen if there is no medical intervention?
  • What will make the person more comfortable?
  • Does the person have a particular goal to accomplish?

General Changes that May Indicate a Need for Hospice Care

  • Multiple medical problems that indicate a limited life expectancy
  • Frequent trips to the emergency room and/or a physician’s office to treat the pain or other symptoms of the illness
  • Loss of interest in eating, weight loss, inability to maintain their usual physical activities, or mental deterioration
  • Desire not to pursue aggressive treatment for the terminal illness
  • Person’s physician attests that there are no other curative treatments available
  • Home health agencies can no longer visit the person due to restrictions