How Can Hospice Help?

What types of diseases are helped the most by hospice care?
Hospice is beneficial for anyone, of any age, with any life-limiting disease. Though many patients have cancer, Center for Hospice Care also has great expertise in providing comfort and symptom control for patients in the final stages of lung, heart and kidney disease, Alzheimer's and other types of dementias, stroke, neuromuscular diseases, AIDS and many other illnesses. Hospice care can also be beneficial for people who are in a severe state of decline due to frailty or other disorders associated with aging.

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 that the six-month prognosis is merely a guideline. Hospice re-evaluates patients every 60 days and, as long as their conditions continue to decline, they are re-certified for hospice coverage for as long as they live.

Won’t our doctors tell us when it’s time for hospice care?
Not always. Many physicians hesitate to broach the subject of hospice because they don’t want to destroy your hope. Frequently, they will continue to pursue treatment because they assume that’s what you want. In other cases, such as congestive heart failure or COPD, it is difficult for them to predict the rate of a patient’s decline. When a doctor does mention hospice, even casually, you should discuss it immediately. In fact, he or she may actually be relieved if you bring up the subject. It is important that you understand the benefits of curative vs. comfort care, and that you and your doctor share the same goals for maintaining quality of life.

What are some signs that a person may be ready for hospice care?

  • An increase in pain, nausea, breathing distress or other symptoms;
  • Repeated hospitalizations or trips to the ER;
  • Failure to "bounce back" after medical set-backs occur;
  • Increasing assistance needed for walking, eating, bathing, dressing and/or going to the toilet;
  • Decreasing alertness – patient is emotionally withdrawn, sleeping more or having increased difficulty with comprehension.

What are some signs that our family could benefit from hospice care?

  • You are physically and/or emotionally exhausted from caring for your loved one;
  • Your family is feeling isolated because of care-giving demands or the uncertainties you feel about your loved one’s future;
  • The patient or members of your family appear to need emotional support to cope with the impending death;
  • You 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 receive. If they and their physicians decide to try another approach, we will assist them in making that transition.