jheiser Asked June 2012

When is it time to call hospice?

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My mother in law is in stage 4 renal cancer, she is still taking chemo pills to prolong her life but she is losing weight on a daily basis and in alot of pain. She is 90lbs today. She takes marinol to stimulate her appetite but she keeps losing weight, she has 100mcg/hr fentynol patches but still very uncomfortable. She has lived 6 months longer than the typical case...but no one will give her a prognosis. When do we know it's time to call hospice?

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I am very sorry about your mother. I just lost my mom to cancer a month ago. We first had hospice come into her home; they provided us with the medicines that could keep her comfortable but that we could administer. They advised us on when the move to a hospice care center would be most helpful. Had it not been for my dad who was somewhat in denial about the whole thing, we would have moved her earlier - it was a wonderful facility with caring people. It sounds like you could benefit from their services right now. A hospice counselor may be able to talk to your mom about whether she is ready to give up the chemo. geewiz is right, in hospice care there is no chemo; it is all palliative care (designed to make her comfortable). Blessing to you as you make these difficult decisions.
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AgingCareCM Jul 2012
jheiser,

I am sorry to hear about your mother and cancer. We have some article that our editors wrote on hospice that I hope will help you with this difficult time. I hope this helps.

Your Parent is Dying: When Is It Time to Call Hospice?
https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/When-Is-It-Time-To-Contact-Hospice-110692.htm

and

Why Caregivers Shouldn't Feel Guilty About Calling Hospice
https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/when-to-call-hospice-for-a-dying-parent-139072.htm

Good Luck to you and your family,
Karie H.
AgingCare.com Team
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geewiz Jun 2012
If your MIL and the family are ready, call them in NOW. Hospice workers are generally wonderful and they can ease arrangements and discussions for you. My understanding of hospice is that the chemo will stop with hospice. They typically require an acknowledgement from the patient and family that the patient is terminal. That may be a 'gulp' for some members.

There is (likely) more than one hospice provider in your area. Call each one and ask what they provide. Choose the one that is best for your MIL's needs. For example, when I made arrangements for my friend to be signed on to hospice, I chose one with aides, spiritual advisors, volunteers, etc in addition to a nurse.

So often , the family waits too long and the benefits of hospice are minimal. They will keep your MIL comfortable and I am sure that is important to all of you. From what you have written, it's time now. Take advantage of their expertise. God Bless.
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