A: Talk to your doctor. It is your right to ask your doctor, “Do you think during the coming months my disease will get better, worse or stay the same?” If your doctor believes that your illness may be life-limiting (that your prognosis may be six months or less), then it’s time to consider hospice.
You can also call HCI Hospice Care Services directly and talk with a hospice nurse about your diagnosis, prognosis and concerns. The nurse can visit you at home, meet with you and your family and evaluate whether hospice can help you. The hospice nurse can then contact your doctor and communicate your condition, questions and concerns. Working with you and your physician, the hospice team can help ensure you receive the type of care you need.
You’ll also want to talk with your family about your prognosis. What about your illness worries or bothers you the most? Many individuals facing the end of life fear dying alone, living in pain or being a burden on their families. Hospice addresses these concerns by surrounding patients with a team of compassionate caregivers, relieving pain and suffering through expert pain and symptom management and providing assistance and resources to family members, which in turn provides reassurance to the patient.
Information provided by Abi Albrecht, LMSW, team director, HCI Hospice Care Services of Central Iowa, 402 12th St., Perry, (515) 465-4705, www.hcicareservices.org.