Is It The Right Time for Hospice?

Father's hands

Adil Mohyuddin, M.D., a cancer specialist in Tullahoma, Tennessee, knew all about hospice care. His patients often trusted him to guide them through the difficult process. Yet, when he was in the late stage of his own cancer diagnosis, he and his family struggled with the timing of hospice care.

“Adil was trying to enroll in one last chemotherapy drug trial,” said his wife Sabina. “He was in pain and didn't think hospice was an option while waiting on the drug trial. When he finally chose hospice and got a pain pump, his mind and body had time to rest and he was more like himself. Although he passed away before getting in the drug trial, he didn’t have the stress that would often come with spikes in his pain.”

Even as an expert, making medical and personal decisions in the face of a serious illness can be difficult and heart wrenching. Conversations near the end of life tend to focus medical matters over the goals and priorities of the patient. 

Have the Hospice Conversation

Patients often say quality of life is more important than how long they’ll live. Getting to the heart of what that really means for each person is the key to making the most of each moment. 

Patients who talk with their clinicians about their values, goals and wishes are less likely to have non-beneficial medical treatment and report better quality of life. An ideal tool for sharing end-of-life goals is through advance directive documents. 

Practical Details about Eligibility

If someone is having increasing difficulty struggling with basic tasks such as walking, getting out of a chair, bathing, dressing, or using the toilet, you may want to consider hospice. Hospice appropriate individuals may exhibit some or all of the following:

  • Repeat trips to the emergency department
  • Progressive weight loss
  • Unrelieved pain
  • Frequent infections
  • Sudden or progressive decline in physical functioning and eating
  • Weight loss/difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath/oxygen dependence

Who Should Receive Hospice Care?

  • Individuals with an illness causing a limited life expectancy of 6 months or less, if the disease runs its normal course.
  • Individuals who have chosen palliative care that focuses on symptom management rather than curative treatment
  • Individuals who choose no extreme measures to sustain life

Call a Compassus location near you to talk with an experienced hospice care consultants or to request an assessment.