choosing hospice care

Many of us assume we’ll always have a little more time with our aging parents or grandparents. Even when our loved ones are in the late stage of a serious illness, medical treatments may offer hope for longer life. But medicine can only take us so far.


If you or a member of your family are dealing with a life-limiting illness, you may be searching for options. Below is our list of signs to look for to determine if it's right time for hospice.  


The hospice decision


Talk to your family, your doctor and others you trust. Patients and families often tell us they regret not enrolling in hospice care earlier. Hospice is all about improving quality of life. It's about making the most of the time you have left, ensuring your physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met.


While the decision to begin care is highly personal, patients always have the option to end hospice care and resume curative treatments at any time.

Eight signs it may be time for hospice

  • Frequent hospitalizations or trips to the ER
  • Frequent or reoccurring infections
  • Reduced desire to eat, leading to significant weight loss and changes in body composition
  • Rapid decline in health over past six months, even with aggressive medical treatments
  • Uncontrolled pain, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting
  • Decreasing alertness, withdrawal, increased sleeping or mental confusion
  • Inability to perform tasks of daily living, such as eating, walking, using the bathroom, personal cleaning or getting dressed
  • Decision to focus on comfort care


Hospice is a fully covered Medicare benefit

Hospice is person-centered care from a physician-led interdisciplinary team skilled at serving people with life-limiting illnesses. The team includes physicians, nurses, nurse assistants and hospice aides, social workers, chaplains and bereavement coordinators, and volunteers. Coverage also includes medicines, supplies, equipment and family support, with no out-of-pocket expenses for the hospice diagnosis.


Hospice eligibility under Medicare requires that an individual is entitled to Medicare Part A and a doctor determines life expectancy is six months or less, if the terminal illness runs its normal course. Patients must forgo treatment for their terminal illness, but may continue all other medical treatments.

Palliative care options


Palliative care is an option for those seeking to reduce the symptoms, side effects and anxiety of a serious illness. Patients are not required to forego medical treatments to cure their illness. They receive care to reduce pain, other symptoms and the sometimes debilitating side effects of medical treatments.


Palliative care often includes goals of care conversations and advance care planning to provide a roadmap for future health care decision-making that can reduce stress on both patients and family members.


Starting hospice or palliative care


  1. If you have an immediate need, use our location finder to find a Compassus location near you.
  2. Complete a referral. Anyone can make a referral. Our admissions coordinator will promptly contact all responsible parties to plan consultations or patient assessments.
  3. Our admission team works directly with families and healthcare professionals on a personal care plan. We bring hospice care to wherever the patient calls home, whether in a private home, nursing home or long-term care community.


All locations are licensed in their state and certified by Medicare, VA Tricare and Medicaid.