How Do Doctors Determine it’s Time For Hospice Care?
Doctors usually order hospice when your goals of care begin shifting away from aggressive treatment of a specific disease or illness and toward relief of symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, anxiety / restlessness or nausea / vomiting. It is usually ordered when it becomes reasonable to anticipate a life expectancy of less than six months if your disease follows its typical course, though this timeline is by no means definitive as no one can know for sure. Your continued eligibility for hospice is re-evaluated at regular intervals and many people receive the benefit of hospice care for longer than 6 months. It is a very personal decision for individuals and families as they consider when and how to shift goals toward quality of life and perhaps away from curative measures. We take great pride in helping you navigate this complex decision with grace and dignity.
Why Do Families Choose Hospice Services?
There are many possible reasons an individual or family might want to shift goals of care toward the management of symptoms and away from trying to cure a disease or illness. The decision to refer to hospice might be associated with increased trips to the hospital or emergency room, recurring infections, loss of appetite / weight loss, general decline / weakness, increased sleep / withdrawal or greater difficulty completing activities of daily life and personal care. You may be experiencing increased symptoms of discomfort related to your illness, or possibly related to the treatment of your illness. Any intervention provided to treat disease comes with benefit as well as burden. When the benefit outweighs the burden many patients and families want to continue curative treatment. When the burden / side effect of treatment begins to outweigh the benefit to patients and families; this is often when consideration for hospice begins and referral is made to hospice to facilitate discussions about your options. Only you can determine what aspects of care are most important to you.
Burden may be associated with things like chemotherapy or radiation, potential surgery, feeding tube placement, further hospitalization or continued trips to various doctors. It could be that you have decided that you do not want to continue treatment, or it could be that your doctors are recommending against such interventions as your body has become weakened and they are concerned you will not be able to tolerate the side effects of continued or proposed treatments. In the case of dementia, it may be that your loved one simply no longer tolerates the unfamiliar environment of the hospital and you wish for them to remain in the comfort of their familiar surroundings rather than return to the hospital in the event of further infection or dehydration, etc.
Is Hospice Care Required WIth Life Ending Illness?
Just because your doctor has made a referral to hospice does not mean you have to sign up for hospice. The next step is usually to sit down with one of our nurses to explore your unique situation and answer your questions about what hospice care might look like for you. Many people are relieved to have frank and honest discussions with our staff about their individual circumstances and their options so they can decide what is best for them. Even if you are not ready for hospice at this time, you may find comfort in getting your questions answered now and planning for the future.
Angels Grace Hospice, located in Bolingbrook, IL, provides a customized care plan to meet the specific needs of patients. We provide comfort care in your home, hospital, nursing home or assisted-living facility depending on your individual circumstances. Contact us with any questions and for further assistance with your end of life care options.