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- YOUR Hillcrest Hospice TEAM



When is it time for hospice care
Many of times each month, patients and families will tell us: "We wish we had learned about your hospice program sooner." It is a common misconception that hospice care is only for the last very last daysor weeks of life when, in fact, patients and families can benefit the most when they have hospice for the final months of life. Here are some questions that may help you determine if it's time for hospice care:

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 a larger portion of patients have cancer, Hillcrest Hospice 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 forecast a patient has six months, or less, to live and curative treatment is no longer being pursued. 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 raise the subject of hospice because they don’t want to end your hope. Frequently, they will continue to pursue treatment because they assume that is 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.

Some signs that a person may be ready for hospice care?

  • An growth in pain, nausea, breathing distress or other symptoms;
  • Constant hospitalizations or trips to the ER;
  • Failure to get better after medical set-backs occur;
  • Increasing help 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.
  • Decreased apatite and body weight.

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 from others 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?
Absolutely; Patients always have the right to choose what type of care they receive and we will assist you and your loved one in making transition from palliative to curative care.

Can we call Hillcrest Hospice even if we don’t think it’s "time"?
Absolutely; an important part of our job is providing guidance to families about any end-of-life care issue, whether or not they’re on our program. You don’t need a physician referral to call us for information. If it appears that hospice care would be beneficial, we will – with your permission – contact your doctor to discuss it.

Are you caring for someone who may benefit from our services?

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Click here to see our Circle of Care

Click here to see Medicare Hospice Benefits Infomation Booklet