When Should a Patient Enter Hospice Care?

When Should a Patient Enter Hospice Care?

The decisions you make for hospice care have an undeniable impact on supporting a loved one through this chapter of life. Family members want to create the optimal circumstances possible to help the person optimize their quality of life.

Hospice care and home health services are essential elements that provide much-needed support for someone with a chronic, terminal health condition. But, how do you know when it’s time to bring in a service provider?

Starting with hospice care is a personal decision that must be made between the patient, family members, and the person’s medical providers. If you are trying to decide whether it’s time for hospice care, reach out to our team to learn more about your options.

What is Hospice?

Hospice focuses on comfort care for a person with a terminal illness. But these services go far beyond the basic level of care. Additional support is available for family members and caregivers, helping to improve the quality of life for everyone involved in a patient’s care.

A terminal illness changes perspective. Loved ones are feeling the importance of creating memories together. The desire is to focus on the people and things that are the highest priorities.

A notable shift happens in this stage: the focus of care moves from curing the disease to the person’s comfort and quality of life instead.

Timing: When Should You Begin Hospice Services

Here are a few guidelines that you should think about if you are considering whether hospice services are right for you or a loved one:

Doctor Recommendation

For a patient to qualify for hospice care through insurance or Medicare coverage, a doctor must determine that the patient meets specific requirements. Then, once a doctor signs off on hospice care, the family can choose a hospice provider and access financial support to pay for these services.

Frequently Visiting the Hospital

Does the patient have health episodes that are sending them to the emergency room or hospital on a regular basis? Then it might be helpful to bring in hospice care.

Hospitalization might be occurring to address frequent infections, manage pain, or address any other health issues that are affecting the person’s quality of life.

Since hospice focuses on daily health management, it’s possible to help the patient balance their overall health more effectively. As a result, it’s possible to have fewer emergencies due to the ongoing medical care the patient is receiving through hospice.

Focus on Quality of Life

When a person has a chronic illness, the highest priority is often on treatments to extend their life. For example, a patient with cancer spends time in chemotherapy or radiation treatments, based on the recommendations from oncology specialists.

The purpose of these treatments is to eliminate cancer cells. But if the treatments aren’t working, it might reach a point where these treatments are causing too much discomfort.

The patient, doctors, and family members might decide to change the focus at this point: it’s time to prioritize the quality of life over aggressive treatments. Before patients enter a hospice program, they must discontinue all curative treatments.

Difficulty with Daily Tasks

How much are the patient and their family caregivers struggling with the daily tasks of living, such as walking, eating, grooming, and using the bathroom? When a person reaches a point where they can no longer perform these tasks without assistance, it’s a sign that hospice care might be required.

Declining health takes a toll on the overall quality of life. Bringing a hospice provider into the home is a crucial step to ensure these tasks are happening without putting an additional burden on the family.

Uncontrolled Symptoms

Chronic illnesses impact every area of life, making it hard to get through the day. If a patient has ongoing symptoms that are difficult to manage, hospice care is an excellent choice.

The most common types of symptoms include vomiting, nausea, pain, and/or shortness of breath. Hospice includes medical care to minimize these symptoms so the patient can live more comfortably each day.

Health is Declining Rapidly

Even though aggressive medical treatments are being used, the person’s health is declining. Symptoms continue to worsen, and the patient finds it more challenging to manage daily tasks.

Not only does declining health make things difficult for the patient. But it takes an undeniable toll on the family and caregivers. As a result, medical care requirements increase, including pain management and other care requirements.

Hospice care is one of the best things that can happen to assist with declining health. Hospice care providers can include medical experts, such as skilled nurses, who oversee the person’s health progression and determine which services are necessary to improve quality of life.

Each patient is unique, so the signs of declining health vary depending on the situation. Common signs to watch for include:

  • Increasing pain and discomfort
  • Withdrawal
  • Decreasing alertness
  • Mental confusion
  • Increased sleeping

Why You Shouldn’t Wait for Hospice Services

There is a misconception among families who don’t understand how hospice works: people think you should wait until the last possible moment before bringing in a hospice provider.

The truth is that hospice can start much earlier than you think. So don’t assume that hospice is only for the last few days or weeks before you say goodbye to a loved one.

In fact, it’s common for patients to experience an improvement in their overall health when they are receiving ongoing care. For example, pain management, dietary support, and improved grooming can help the person feel better – which improves the overall quality of life.

Bringing comfort care into your home doesn’t mean you give up on the person. The opposite is true – these hospice services are designed to help patients and their loved ones maximize their time together.

Timing is Everything: Consult with a Hospice Provider

It’s a tough decision to know when you should be bringing in a hospice care provider. But rest assured, knowing that you don’t need to make these decisions on your own.

The patient’s doctor can guide this process to determine when hospice services will be beneficial. Additionally, consider talking to our team at Avatar Healthcare to learn more about the way this process works.

We work with families to offer individual services. Our hospice care team understands that each situation is unique, which is why we continuously dedicate the time and attention you deserve when coordinating hospice care and other home services.

If you are wondering whether hospice care is necessary at this point, then it’s a sign that you need to schedule a consultation. Rest assured knowing that we take the time to evaluate your situation so that the patient can receive the personalized care that they deserve.

Learn More About In-Home Hospice Care

Do you need information about hospice care for yourself or a loved one? Then talk to our experienced team at Avatar Healthcare.

We offer a variety of personalized solutions, including hospice, home health, and personal home care services. Contact us at your convenience to schedule a consultation. Call us any time at (844) 422-5528.


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