“How does my doctor know I won’t outlive hospice?” asked Mary, an in-home care client of Luxe Homecare.
“The truth is, Mary, your doctor doesn’t know for sure and is taking an educated guess by considering the effectiveness of the medical treatments, your pain levels, and overall well-being,” I answered.
“However,” I cautioned, “this is not an arbitrary decision. To qualify under Medicare’s hospice regulations, your physician must state in writing that he or she believes that you have six months or less to live. The majority of individuals do not even enter hospice until they are near the end of their life, with the average stay being 17 days. Using hospice for the short term doesn’t allow the family or the patient to experience its full collection of services.”
Your Doctor Hasn’t Given Up on You
I explained to Mary that her physician is recommending hospice as he or she can see that the medical treatments given to her are no longer sufficient. “The doctor wants you to be physically comfortable with as little pain as possible (hospice nurses are experts in pain management) and surrounded by your family and friends whenever you want them with you. That also means that if you are able, you can join relatives and others at get-togethers and other occasions. No one is going to stop you from doing that.”
Hospice Services Available
Mary was surprised to find out that both she and her family would be able to see a bereavement counselor who would be on hand for guidance or to walk her and her loved ones through the grieving process. I informed her that families can receive up to a year or more of bereavement counseling after the patient dies, depending on the hospice agency and their rules.
She had complained about some stomach issues and wondered what type of food they served in hospice. I told her not to worry as a dietician is part of the hospice team. “If you are having difficulties digesting or swallowing your food, she will be able to help you find the right food groups to meet your nutritional needs and to ease your discomfort.”
I went on to explain that there is always a clergy member on staff and that she can call her minister to come and visit.
Finally, I returned to her original question she asked me. I mentioned that even though her physician may not know when she would transition, she had options. She could choose to leave hospice and be readmitted at a future date, or, if she lived beyond six months, a hospice could dismiss her. I added that under certain circumstances and with the permission of the hospice director and your physician, her hospice stay could be extended, depending on her medical condition.
Mary, who wasn’t at all at ease with the hospice process at first, sounded more centered and at ease with her imminent death. “You were right,” said Mary. “This was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself and my family.”
Luxe Hospice can help your loved ones just as we helped Mary and her family. To find out more about hospice in Southern California, please contact us at 310-459-2040. You can also email us at info@LuxeHC.com. We offer hospice care in a multitude of neighborhoods in Southern California including Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Malibu, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Pacific Palisades, Riverside and Santa Monica.