Here's Why Family Members Often Wait Too Long to Call Hospice

Calling hospice care is a huge decision that ultimately signals the end of life for a loved one. It’s not a decision that anyone should make lightly, but that should be made with careful forethought. However, it’s important to know when to call hospice so that your loved one gets the care they need and deserve. Waiting too long to call hospice is a decision that you’ll likely regret.

Why People Often Don’t Utilize Hospice

There’s more than one reason why people don’t utilize hospice as often or readily as they should. Let’s start by looking at each of these reasons and finding solutions to the problems they present.

  • Many People Don’t Know When to Call – Traditionally, hospice had been reserved for patients with cancer and other obvious and debilitating diseases. However, hospice is now available to most patients approaching the end of their lives. Many people don’t know when their loved one is at the point of needing hospice care. They also often don’t realize that hospice has tests and systems designed specifically to determine if a patient needs their care. By simply calling and inquiring about a local hospice care facility, they can help you determine what your next steps should be.
  • The stigma attached to hospice – Hospice also has the unwelcome and untrue stigma that it’s a last resort, and you’re essentially handing your loved one over to die. Hospice care isn’t meant as an omen that you’re giving up on a loved one. It’s intended as a way of enhancing their quality of life for as long as possible and letting professional caregivers give their loved ones the specialized care and attention they need.
  • People don’t understand the benefits of hospice – As we’ll discuss later, there are many benefits to hospice care that home care can’t compete with. People often don’t understand how remarkable and beneficial hospice is for their loved ones.
  • People don’t want to depress or scare their loved ones – One of the main reasons people wait to contact hospice is that it’s a sad undertaking. They’ll first have to have a conversation with their loved one that you can no longer give them the care they need.

Broaching the subject of death is uncomfortable for anyone, especially when dealing with a family member. A big part of the delay in calling hospice is because people aren’t willing to discuss their loved ones’ mortality with them. While this discussion might scare or sadden them, it’s more important that they have the care they need towards the end.

Get StartedHow to Know When It’s Time to Call Hospice

Only hospice can determine if your loved one is ready for their care. However, there are definite signs and symptoms to watch out for on your end that will help you know when it’s time to make the call.

  • Difficulty staying healthy – If your loved one is forced to make frequent trips to a hospital or medical facility to receive care, it’s a sign that they’re struggling to manage on their own.
  • Difficulty performing everyday tasks – As patients progress towards needing hospice care, they’ll be unable to perform everyday tasks. Eating, drinking, incontinence, difficulty walking or speaking, and no longer moving about on their own are all signs that hospice should be contacted.
  • Frequent falls and infections – Before patients cannot move about on their own, they’ll likely start falling and suffering from infections frequently.
  • Dramatic weight loss – Rapid and unexplained weight loss is a sign that your loved ones cannot feed and nourish themselves. It could also be a sign that some of their systems are starting to shut down.
  • Unhealthy skin – Skin infections, scabs, cuts, and tears are signs that your loved one’s condition is rapidly deteriorating.

If you notice that your loved one is struggling with one or more of these things, it’s time to call hospice and have them evaluate the situation.

Can I change my mind after calling hospice?

Hospice care is meant to make people more comfortable while dealing with whatever illness or condition they have. It isn’t meant as a cure, but it is intended to prolong their life and ease the pains of their sickness. If your loved one enters hospice, but you change your mind and decide to pursue curative care, that’s perfectly fine!

While hospice is only meant to manage symptoms of an illness, it’s possible that by properly managing the symptoms, they start to recover. We encourage you to seek further medical attention for your loved one if this happens. If you remove them and they begin to decline once again, you can re-enroll them into hospice care at any time.

What are the benefits of hospice care?

One of the biggest reasons people wait to call hospice for a loved one is that they don’t fully understand what hospice is and what it offers. Hospice can greatly enhance the final days of your loved one. It’s designed to mitigate and relieve the symptoms they’re struggling with and ease their pain.

Hospice care can also be administered at your home. Many facilities offer in-home hospice care if you or your loved one isn’t ok with moving to a new facility full of strangers. However, if they require care that can’t be administered at home, you will be better off admitting them to inpatient care.

Hospice care is administered by medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, nutritionists, physical therapists, and even chaplains. We work to manage your loved ones’ physical pain, emotional well-being, mental strength, and spiritual concerns. No matter what your family member is struggling with or how it’s affecting them, hospice can help.

Who to contact for hospice care in Georgia

If you’re ready to contact hospice for inpatient or outpatient care, look no further than Hospice Care in Central Georgia. Our team of professionals can help you and your loved one every step of the way. We also offer palliative care if your loved one isn’t ready for hospice but needs ongoing care and support. Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to call. Contact us today and find out how we can help.