Does hospice care mean the end?

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My mother has Alzheimers and her doctor feels benefits of xaralto blood thinner is making her situation worse. She falls and we have to rush to hospital to check if she is hemorrhaging. My mother in her lucid moments is asking to die. I care for her at home and have a young daughter and husband. The doctor made the hospice referral because she is hypertensive and will likely have a stroke without the blood thinner. What can I expect from hospice care for my mother?

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gladimhere, this is a little of the topic of hospice, but my husband and I and even his PCP also hoped that something fatal would happen to Coy so he wouldn't have to suffer the end stage of dementia. In his case we hoped/expected that would be a heart attack -- bam and it would be over. (Consistent with his heart disease and his family history.)

But hoping doesn't make it so. Coy died of dementia, although the autopsy indicated he would have died of heart problems very soon in any case. His last weeks (5 of them on hospice) were calm and gentle. He slept more and more. When he was awake he was mostly lucid -- more so than he had been. He ate some days, if he wanted to. He carried on meaningful conversations. He died in our bedroom, holding my hand.

In other words, in Coy's case it was a race between heart problems and the breathing/swallowing problems of dementia. In hindsight, I'm kind of glad the dementia took him. It was peaceful with no massive pain. And I am very, very glad he was on hospice.
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Helpful response, Jeanne! I too, wonder about hospice. The time will come eventually for many of us. Truth be told I often hope that something fatal happens to my mom before it is time for hospice to enter the picture. Would be so much easier on mom if that were to happen, instead of the brain deteriorating to the point that she cannot function at all any longer her body is relatively healthy. Only meds she takes now are for behaviors related too Alzheimer's.
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Doctors provide a referral to Hospice care when they feel that most patients with the diagnosis and symptoms of this person would die within 6 months.

In that sense it is for "end" stage conditions.

No one can predict accurately when someone is going to die. So sometimes hospice patients live longer than 6 months and their enrollment is renewed. Sometimes they even improve and are discharged from the program. (That happened to my mother.)

But usually hospice patients do, indeed, die. Will the hospice care be in your home? They will see to it that Mother has any equipment she needs to be comfortable, such as a hospital bed and a bedside commode. They will provide a kit of drugs for you to administer as needed. They will explain what each is for and how to use it. They will give you a 24-hour phone number to call at any time. For example, if you are not certain about giving one of the meds you can call them.

The meds are intended to keep Mother out of pain and out of anxiety.

A nurse will visit, probably a couple times a week, and check vitals, check for bed sores, solve problems, and generally be encouraging. Between visits you are welcome to use that 24-hour phone number.

A chaplain and a social worker are also available to you and to your mother.

Since your mother is asking to die, she would probably welcome the end-of-life care hospice provides. They do not cause death or hasten death. Death is going to happen when it will happen, from Mother's diseases. But they can ensure Mother's comfort during this process and also help you and your family understand what is going on, so you can perhaps accept it more gracefully.

Once hospice starts there are no more attempts at a "cure," no ER visits, no need to go to a clinic or doctor's office. If there is an uncomfortable symptom, the nurse will handle it. For example, my husband was extremely uncomfortable, the nurse thought he needed a catheter, she went out to her car and brought in a sterile kit and applied it, much to my husband's great relief. So I don't mean problems aren't solved -- just that you won't have to take Mother to an ER to get them solved.

I would like hospice care for myself when I am in the end stage of my life.
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