Whether Your Caree Receives Hospice Hinges on the Physician


Whether Your Caree Receives Hospice Hinges on the Physician

hands-736244_640Research released yesterday says that a physician is the most important factor in whether or not a patient receives hospice care. Meaning, physician who refer to hospice, refer to hospice. But, if your caree's physician doesn't refer to hospice, then your caree won't be referred to hospice.

You may wonder if you caree may be appropriate for hospice care but decide your caree's doctor will tell you when the time has arrived. It's important to note that some physicians will wait too long or simply won't refer your caree to hospice.

Hospice will be appropriate when your caree has six months or less to live. You'll want to consider hospice services when your caree has:

  • frequent hospitalizations;

  • progressive weight loss;

  • deteriorating mental abilities;

  • recurrent infections;

  • overall decline in condition;

  • increase in ER visits.

Hospice services include nursing care, social services, spiritual care, home health aides, volunteer support, physical, occupational and speech therapies, respite care (so you can take a break) and bereavement support.

The conversation about hospice shouldn't happen during your caree's last few weeks. (Read "Save the Wait for the DMV.") It's an ongoing discussion between you, your caree and your caree's physician. I believe it's important to ask your caree's physician to be upfront with you (and your caree, as appropriate) about prognosis so that you can make informed decisions about when it's time for hospice. You may think the physician will take the lead in these discussions; it's important that you do.

I've lost count of how many family caregivers told me that they regret waiting too long for hospice. It's such a battle with regrets; win this one by being in front of the conversation.