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Q: When is it time to seek hospice care?

Posted August 21, 2013 in Advice Column

A: At HCI Hospice Care Services, the most common words we hear from families we serve are “I wish I had heard of you sooner.”

Unfortunately, many patients come to hospice services with only days to live. For those who qualify (a life-limiting prognosis coupled with the desire to focus care on comfort measures), Medicare hospice benefits cover almost all the costs of hospice care, including related medications, medical equipment and hospice team visits. If you know someone who could benefit from more help at home, ask these questions to start the conversation:

“Do you think over the next month your disease will get better, worse or stay the same?” It’s time to call for help if someone with a serious illness needs more help with daily activities, is making more emergency trips to the hospital, is eating less or is losing weight or hurts from uncontrolled pain.

“Have you talked with your doctor and your family about your prognosis and what to expect in the days ahead?” It can be difficult to ask about how one’s illness is likely to progress, but it opens the door to talk about various “what if” scenarios.

“Have you thought about what extra type of support you might need at home?” It’s often hard to ask for help; your questions can help someone take that first step.

Information provided by Terry Terrones, RN, MSN, CHPN, HCI Hospice Care Services, 103 E. Van Buren St., Centerville, (641) 856-5502,

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