How to Know When It’s Time for Hospice Care

May 03, 2024
There’s much to be said for putting up the good fight when it comes to your health, but there’s equal courage and wisdom in opting for hospice care. Here are some guidelines to help with this difficult decision.

Whether you’re reading this for yourself or a loved one, your road has been a long and arduous one as you battle a difficult health condition. You’re now feeling like this fight is exacting too large a toll, and you’re wondering whether the better path forward is hospice care.

There are about 1.5 million Americans in hospice care at any given time, and this number is expected to grow with an aging population. And each of these people, and their families, had to make this same difficult decision.

Here at 24/7 Care At Home in Orange County, California, our skilled and compassionate team has devoted our practice to caring for people with life-limiting illnesses. If you find yourself trying to decide on the next steps and whether it’s time for hospice care, please read on for some helpful guidelines.

Hospice care, by definition

Let’s start with a brief description of what hospice care is all about. With hospice care, we focus on keeping you comfortable. Critical components of our hospice care include:

  • Medications to keep you comfortable
  • Family counseling
  • Mental and emotional support
  • Spiritual help, if desired
  • Physical therapy
  • Nutritional guidance

Our goal is to let our patients choose how they navigate their end of life and to restore critical peace and dignity during this final stage for the patients, their family, and their friends. We also provide at-home hospice care, allowing patients to be in familiar and comfortable surroundings.

Hospice care by the numbers

Let’s now look at hospice care from a purely numerical perspective, even though there’s much more to it than that. We typically recommend hospice care when the life expectancy is six months or less.

We bring up this number because it’s often important for health insurance and Medicare purposes. Rest assured, if a patient exceeds six months, we will continue to provide care and work with the necessary agencies to ensure no disruption. 

Making the tough decision

We want to emphasize that choosing when and if to enter hospice care is a deeply personal decision and one that only you can make with your loved ones.

That said, we can provide some guidelines based on our experiences. Many of our patients choose hospice care because:

Treatment options have been exhausted

You’ve tried to treat the health condition, even aggressively, but the treatments are simply no longer working.

Too many complications

Another reason why patients opt to stop treatment is that the complications are too overwhelming. From frequent infections and pain to nausea and vomiting, the side effects of the treatments have simply become too much to bear.

In and out of hospitals and ERs

If your treatments keep you on a constant cycle of needing to go to hospitals, ERs, or urgent care centers, it may be time to stop the cycle through hospice care.

Mental and cognitive decline

Another reason why people seek hospice care is when there’s mental and/or cognitive decline. For example, patients can become severely depressed due to the treatment and their health condition.

Quality of life is paramount

Ultimately, we feel that the decision to enter hospice care is one that should be based on what your version of quality of life is. If you’d rather spend what time you have left at home and out of medical care so that you can enjoy your family and friends, hospice care can make very good sense.

If you’d like to learn more about our hospice care and get more guidance for your decision-making, we’re just a phone call or click away. To schedule a consultation at 24/7 Care At Home, please call our office in Orange County, California, at 800-651-5371. 

Someone is standing by to help you now.