Hundreds of times each year, patients and families tell us: “We wish we had called your hospice program sooner.” It is a common misconception that hospice care is only for the last few days or weeks of life. Patients and families can benefit most when they have hospice care during the final months of life. Here are some questions that might help you determine if it’s time for hospice care for your patient:
What types of diseases are cared for with hospice care?
Hospice is beneficial to anyone, of any age, with any life-limiting disease. Though many patients have cancer, Piedmont Hospice also has great expertise in providing comfort and symptom control for patients in the final stages of lung, heart, liver and kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementias, stroke, neuromuscular diseases, AIDS and many other illnesses. Hospice care can also be very beneficial for people who are in a severe state of decline due to frailty or other disorders associated with dying.
When is someone “eligible” for hospice care?
Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans provide coverage for hospice care when physicians predict a patient has six months or less to live and curative treatment is no longer being sought. Please understand the six-month prognosis is merely a guideline. The hospice team continuously re-evaluates the patient’s condition and each patient is re-certified for hospice coverage based on Medicare guidelines specific to each patient.
What are some signs that a person is ready for hospice care?
- an increase in pain, nausea, breathing distress, or other symptoms
- repeated hospitalizations or trips to the emergency room
- failure to “bounce back” after medical set-backs occur
- increased assistance needed with walking, eating, bathing, dressing and/or going to the toilet
- decreasing alertness – patient is emotionally withdrawn, sleeping more or having difficulties with comprehension
- continued decline in health status despite medical interventions
What are some signs that a family member could benefit from hospice care?
- They are physically and/or emotionally tired from caring for the loved one
- Their family is feeling isolated because of care-giving demands or the uncertainties one feels about the loved one’s future
- The patient or members of the family appear to need emotional support to cope with the impending death
- They are overwhelmed by the myriad of physical, financial, emotional and spiritual concerns arising because of the illness
Can a patient stop having hospice care?
Yes. Patients always have the right to choose what type of care they will receive. If the patient and their physicians decide to try another approach, we will help them in making that transition.
Can we call Piedmont Hospice even if we don’t think “it’s time”?
Absolutely. An important part of our hospice care is providing guidance, education and support to families about any end-of-life issue, whether or not they are using our program.
Make a Referral to Piedmont Hospice Today