When is Hospice Recommended?

There is no hard and fast recommendation as to when hospice care should be pursued. Every situation is different for each individual and age is not always a factor. Patients who are dealing with a terminal illness that brings with it extreme agony due to the symptoms of the disease would be well-advised to do their homework as soon as possible.

There is nothing wrong with gathering the necessary information to become better educated on all of the important details about hospice care. End of life decisions are rarely easy and time is often at a premium.

Reasons for Hospice

Preserving the quality of life of an individual with a life expectancy of less than six months is the primary reason for hospice care. Whether it’s due to a terminal illness or age or any other reason that can impact the comfort and well-being of the individual, hospice care is aimed at treating the symptoms associated with the condition and not the condition itself.

Deciding to enter hospice means the patient plans to abandon any other treatments designed to cure their illness. Perhaps the current treatments are just not showing any efficacy anymore, the side-effects of the treatments are worse than the symptoms of the illness, or there is simply no viable option for treatment. These are all common reasons why patients elect to pursue hospice care.

A patient who has been given a prognosis of six months or fewer is one of the eligibility requirements for receiving hospice care. Eligibility criteria also requires the patient to give up curative treatments and opt instead for treatment that eases the discomfort of their symptoms.

This final phase of one’s life should not be filled with pain and suffering. Hospice provides solutions for relieving pain and managing the symptoms of severe illness. This allows the patient to maintain an acceptable quality of life for his or her remaining days.

Physician Recommendations

If the patient is visiting his or her doctor more often than usual, it may be time to ask the physician about hospice. Depending on the condition that continues to require medical attention, hospice care may be the next step. Chronic pain can be a symptom associated with many serious illnesses that a physician would need to monitor and diagnose.

If that diagnosis results in the physician giving the patient a life expectancy of six or fewer months if the illness is not treated, that would count as a certification for hospice should the patient wish to seek out care. The most common illnesses where hospice can be of assistance include cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, ALS, HIV/AIDS, and lung, heart, or liver diseases.

Eligibility for Hospice

Patients who qualify for hospice can have all of their costs covered through Medicare, Medicaid, and many private insurers. If the symptoms are too severe to manage, the physician may urge the patient and family members to enter a hospice care arrangement. A physician’s referral is not always needed in order to receive hospice, however, a physician must certify the patient for eligibility to comply with the life expectancy requirement. Should the patient live longer than the six months for which he or she was certified, a re-certification can be obtained to continue care.

Getting Started

These are just some indications when hospice is needed but they are by no means the only signs. Sometimes an individual’s health is very obviously in decline and a conversation should be initiated between the individual and loved ones. There are many options available when it comes to hospice care even if initiating the conversation about them can be extremely difficult.

A physician can be a strong and reliable voice in this decision and help the individual understand that comfort care does not mean surrender. Hospice only emphasizes life by raising the quality of it for the individual who is suffering in pain.

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