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When is it time to call hospice?

Everyone says when there is a life expectancy of 6 months or less but how do you know that?
Status: Open    Sep 15, 2014 - 11:47 AM

End of Life

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Oct 13, 2014 - 01:06 PM

The Medicare rules for hospice services require certification from 2 physicians to verify that the individual is expected to live 6 months or less, if the disease runs its natural course. Usually, the 2 physicians would include the individual's primary care physician. This is the person that you would want to consult with first. The other physician can be the medical director of the hospice agency.

It is expected that anyone who receives hospice services will no longer receive any life saving treatments, such as chemotherapy. The focus will then become the alleviation of physical, emotional, and social symptoms. Hospice can provide some valuable end-of-life services for patients and families.

The 6 month rule does not mean that if the individuals do not die in 6 months, they can no longer receive hospice. It just means that they need to be recertified by the hospice agency.

If one is not quite ready to make the decision for hospice services, it does not hurt to investigate obtaining palliative care services that focus on alleviation of symptoms experienced with diseases and their treatments. Receiving palliative care does not automatically disqualify one from continued life saving treatment.

My book, Healthcare Handbook For Senior Citizens and Their Families, provides more details about Hospice services and end-of-life care. Also, you can find information about the hospice regulations on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CMS website.


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By shirleyv03 on Jan 14, 2017 - 08:57 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

I noticed that my mom was sleeping a lot during the day as well as at night. She also had lost interest in everything -even her favorite: Bingo! She was eating less and had lost weight. I asked her primary care doctor if it was time to consider hospice and she agreed. My mom died less than a month later, not because she was on hospice, but because her body had been shutting down for quite a while.
I might add that she had been on hospice a few years earlier and the extra attention revived her interest in living and she began to eat more and regained some of the weight she had lost; she was dropped from the hospice program at the end of the initial 6 month period and lived more than two years after that. So don't think that you will be sentencing your loved one to an immediate death if you enroll them in hospice.

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Feb 28, 2015 - 04:51 PM

They will have someone come to assess the family member.
As long as there is a decline the person will not be "kicked out" of hospice. Although a recertification is done and they document the decline.
I know of several people that have been on Hospice for a year or more.
Often people begin to "do better" when Hospice becomes involved because they are getting more personal direct care.
When you call and they come out to assess the situation they will probably let you know right then if Palliative care or Hospice would be the better option. In either case it does not harm to call.
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