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I always thought hospice was for terminally ill people, especially those with cancer. My ninety year old mother seems to be entering a new level of medical frailty. Although she has had mild to moderate dementia, macular degeneration, limited mobility, high blood pressure and high cholesterol for several years, she has been fairly strong and not acutely ill in any way. However, in recent months, she has had a TIA, dehydration, UTIs, low heart rate more frequently. Moreover, she wants to sleep almost all the time. She has been sent to the ER and admitted to the hospital three times in the past two months. We have wonderful home health services, and I would like her to be able to remain at home. However, I am getting concerned about her need for more skilled nursing care, and regular lab work to avoid regular trips to the ER.

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Ask your home health nurse what he/she thinks. Most home health agencies not only offer in-home nursing but hospice services as well. Maybe an outside opinion can help you make a determination if hospice would be more appropriate for your mom going forward.

Keep in mind with hospice your mom will no longer receive regular lab work. All medical intervention stops when someone goes on hospice. No Dr. visits, no trips to the ER, etc. but the hospice nurse will have access to a Dr. who will make a determination if your mom can have an antibiotic for a UTI, for example. Hospice provides comfort measures only and an antibiotics may be considered a comfort measure. This is the type of thing you'll need to find out about.
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