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When is the right time for hospice?

When is the right time for hospice?

Waiting too long to use hospice care can make suffering at end-of-life worse.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, putting off hospice care until the last days of life decreases the chances for patients and families to receive a meaningful hospice benefit.

Without hospice care, patients could be suffering needlessly for months. Some evidence even suggests that hospice patients live just as long or longer than those without hospice.

“Many people are fearful that if they choose hospice, they won’t be able to return to mainstream medicine should they improve or new treatments become available — that’s not true,” Meier says. “Hospice is not a one-way street.”

If you have not discussed hospice with your doctor and loved ones, Meier offers two suggestions on determining the best time.

1-Someone is having increasing difficulty with self-care, struggling with tasks such as walking, getting out of a chair, bathing, dressing and using the toilet. Hospice care is designed to help with all of those activities.

2-Symptoms such as severe pain, shortness of breath, hopelessness, depression and profound fatigue. In hospice, “most of them can be improved or eliminated.”