When is the right time to choose hospice?
At the time a medical condition is deemed to be terminal and treatment for cure is no longer of benefit, it is time to select hospice care. While it is usually the patient’s physician or specialist who makes the recommendation for hospice, it is each person’s right to request an assessment for hospice care. Hospice is appropriate when the disease, following its natural progression, will limit life to six months or less.
One of the most common misunderstandings about hospice is that services are not needed until just weeks before death is expected. In fact, there is great benefit receiving hospice care as soon as one is eligible. For example, with the help of the hospice nurse, pain and uncomfortable symptoms can be managed. The earlier one receives hospice care the greater the opportunity to stabilize a patient’s medical condition and to address other needs, such as spiritual needs. Receiving hospice care does not mean that death is immediate. And if the patient’s condition significantly improves, one can go off hospice service and later re-enroll when hospice care is again needed.