When Will You Know It’s Time For Hospice Care?
During the last 15 years, both as a hospice consultant and owner of a hospice, I get this question from family members, caregivers and even from doctors. The following is my answer to that question:
- This is a short list of things you may be noticing or experiencing.
- You or your loved one may be having repeated hospitalizations or trips to the emergency room,
- You may notice an increase in pain that is not relieved by common medications, weakness, shortness of breath and other symptoms.
- Medications that were previously effective no longer work for you and you feel tired of going to see your primary care physician every few weeks.
- You noted that your loved-one health is rapidly deteriorating such as unplanned weight loss, increasing confusion. A person can become emotionally withdrawn and sleeping less.
- You may have a lack of appetite
- A person may have developed wounds that are not healing in spite of wound care.
- You are tired of seen your specialist every few months, tired of taking the maximum medications for your condition which may involve cardiac, liver, lungs or kidney systems.
- You have difficulty with your activities of daily living and would like to be home and have your medications and any special medical equipment that you need, delivered to your home.
I follow this up by telling them that the next step is to contact us at Aria Hospice, that we, as clinicians, will go through the following steps in assessing whether or not a person is eligible or a candidate for hospice.
- Conduct a visit to assess the patient’s overall clinical status.
- If appropriate, an authorization will be obtained from the patient or designated decision maker to obtain clinical and treatment history provided to the patient by primary care or specialist doctors, as well as from hospital and skilled nursing facilities that the patient may have been in.
- Upon receiving the clinical and treatment history, the Aria Hospice Medical Director in coordination with the Director of Patient Care Services will review it to establish Medicare hospice appropriateness for hospice admission.
- If it is found that the patient meets Medicare Guidelines for hospice, the patient and/or family will be provided with a thorough explanation of hospice care and their rights to choose hospice care.
- In the event that the patient and/or family decide to be under Aria Hospice care, a Hospice Team will conduct the Initial Hospice Assessment. The Team usually includes a Registered Nurse and a Hospice Aide.
- Aria Hospice ensures that all required Durable Medical Equipment is delivered to the patient’s home prior to the Hospice Team arrival. Common Durable Medical equipment includes: hospital beds, oxygen equipment. Wheelchairs, front wheel walkers, and others as needed.
Many of us assume we’ll always have more time to spend with our aging parents, grandparents or other aging relatives.
Even when our loved ones are in the late stages of a serious illness, medical treatments may offer hope for longer life, which often is without the quality that we would like our loved ones to have. Medicine can only take us so far.
Hospice care is not about dying, it is about deciding how to live life with the time that’s left, how to spend the time that is left in the company of our loved ones, sharing great moments and memories. It’s the part about how much time is left that creates much confusion about where to go for the care of your loved one. When you are not sure where to go in the care of your loved one, or need clarification on what hospice care is, I recommend that you call our office at: (760) 412-5574, or call me directly at (619) 540-7477.