What are my options? This is one of the most important questions you can ask whenever you or a loved one are facing a serious illness. It is a question that should be asked repeatedly as the illness and treatments progress. It is easy to become so consumed with treatments and results (or lack of results), that you forget that other options are available. Remember, you always have options!
When you are faced with any serious or potentially life-threatening illness, you should begin conversations to make sure your physician and your loved ones are aware of your end-of life wishes.
Decide who will speak for you if you cannot. If you have not already determined your advanced healthcare directives and designated someone to speak on your behalf (if you are unable to do so) regarding healthcare decisions, now is the time.
These decisions can be made more thoughtfully and with less stress if they are made when you can be an active participant and are not in a crisis situation.
Elect Hospice at the Right Time:
Understand how hospice can help. At any stage of an advanced illness, it is appropriate to consider hospice care as one of your options for moving forward. Hospice care is most beneficial when it is elected as early as possible. The original premise for hospice was that patients would receive this level of care for approximately six months prior to death. Because no one can precisely predict an end of life timeline and patients often improve (and actually live longer) when receiving hospice care, there is no limit on the length of time patients can be on hospice. A patient must continue to meet the hospice guidelines for appropriateness.
Unfortunately, the average length of time patients currently receive hospice care is currently less than 20 days!
People are often fearful of choosing hospice; however, the reality is that most are not accessing hospice care in a timely fashion and are not receiving the full benefit of this type of care.
Making the decision to choose hospice earlier affords the patient and their loved ones adequate time for symptom and pain management and the development of a trusting relationship with their hospice team. Your hospice team has a depth of knowledge and experience with end of life matters that other care providers in the healthcare environment do not possess. These hospice professionals will be there to answer your questions and help you be better prepared for your end-of-life journey.
Here are a few physical signs that indicate that it might be time for hospice:
- Despite aggressive treatment, your health is continuing to decline.
- Worsening of your symptoms is affecting your quality of life.
- You are no longer able to manage your activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, meals, etc) and you need more support.
- Your doctor says that there is nothing more they can do for you.
Starting the Conversation about Hospice:
Anyone can make a request for hospice care. You or your loved one can call our hospice, 210-444-2244, and request a no obligation evaluation to determine if you are eligible for hospice. You can also talk to your physician about hospice and request that they contact us for an evaluation. If you or your loved one is currently in a facility, you can talk with your case manager, discharge planner or social worker to request that they contact us on your behalf.
All hospices are not alike – You should know that it is the patient and their family who make the final determination on which hospice will be best for them. You can request a list of hospices that serve your area from your physician or another member of your healthcare team. Your physician may also recommend an agency with whom they are familiar, but the agency they suggest may not always be the best hospice provider for your specific needs. You should do your research, talk to more than one agency and then select the hospice that you believe will work best with you and your family. We encourage you to fill out our contact us form or call us to request additional information about hospice or to request a no obligation visit and evaluation.
Once an evaluation is requested, a member of our team will contact you to determine a convenient time for us to come to your location (home/hospital/long term care facility). We have staff available to meet with you 7 days a week. Our hospice representative will provide detailed information about our hospice philosophy and care and will answer any questions you have. One of our Registered Nurse Case Managers will review your medical history, medications and conduct a physical examination. Our team can complete all of these steps as quickly as you and your physician prefer – often in a matter of a few hours.