How do you know when it is time to call hospice?

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Dear Fromzstore,
In early 2004 my dad who had diabetes would control his blood sugar by walking (he took medication as well) after eating anything and then would take a reading to make sure it had returned to a normal range. Suddenly, he would eat, walk and take readings and it would remain high. We began to take him to specialists until finally we had a diagnosis. He had Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer (from diabetic complications) which is a disease that is incurable. Upon learning this, my mom and I took him to an Oncologist and surprisingly my dad was willing to try chemotherapy so we set up his first treatment for a few days later. After I got home, I couldn't shake the fact that my dad would be undergoing the treatments and suffer immensely just to maybe in a best case scenario give him a couple of months. I called my mom and told her I didn't feel good about the whole thing. I knew nothing about hospice care back then but, the strange thing was as I listened to my favorite radio station, an ad for our state's most well known hospice company played.
I called them and they sent me an informational packet right away. After reading through everything, I called them to have my dad's situation evaluated by a Case Manager to see if he qualified. They came to the house and we talked about it as a family and I signed papers that very day. He qualified because they knew he couldn't survive this for very long - they had given him six months. He only lived two weeks after I signed up for hospice. We had him stay in their home as he didn't want to leave and go to a hospice home. It is for comfort care - that means he wouldn't be going in and out of the hospital, he wouldn't be given alternative treatments to try and of course, there would be no chemotherapy given which I knew in my heart he would have been sicker than a dog if we had gone that route. I couldn't bear to see him go through all that at age 82 and even have my mom be the caregiver at 79. This spared them both all of that.
So that being said, I would call hospice and you tell them the situation and if they feel that it would be a hospice case, they will go see your Aunt and assess her, tell you whether or not she qualifies and then you can go from there. That way it takes the pressure off you to try and determine if they are needed. They always said that people don't fully understand what they do (or don't do) so they often call too late such as in my dad's case. We don't know - what we don't know in the moment. Let them help you with the decision since they are the experts. Good luck and let us know what happens!
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to NobodyGetsIt

It's time to call hospice when a knowledgeable and informed doctor suggests to you that there is not a whole lot left to be done toward a cure, when it looks as though the end may be near, say within a years time. Or when your elder has stopped wishing to live, stopped participating, perhaps no longer wishing to eat; when the disease or aging process has made them very uncomfortable and without hope and without an answer. Hospice enters when there will be no more diagnostic testing, no more treating for a cure. Their mission is comfort and a good quality to the remainder of life, to support the patient with extra care, with clergy support if wanted, with social services for family and patient. There is really no downside if a doctor will order hospice for you and if hospice interviews and decided the referral of the MD is appropriate. These are great generalities of course; but knowing nothing about your personal situation, there is nothing but generalities to offer.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to AlvaDeer

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