We have been in and out of the hospital multiple times in the past year with our mom, who is suffering from congestive heart failure. This time, the hospital physician is recommending hospice and we feel it’s too soon. Is there a reason they are mentioning hospice, even though she is still fighting?
~Not Ready to Give Up
Dear Not Ready to Give Up,
Hospice often brings to mind people who are in their final days of life. This frequently creates a dilemma for patients and families who are struggling to make a decision, especially when it feels too soon. When a doctor refers a patient to hospice, it is because the physician believes the patient has six months or less to live if the disease takes its normal course. This does not necessarily mean the patient will pass in six months, but that people in that stage of the disease process tend to pass away within six months. That is the qualification for hospice care as defined by Medicare. The goal of hospice is to maximize a patient’s time with their families and loved ones in a comfortable, safe environment. The hospice care team comes to the home to control symptoms and helps the family plan for the future.