Is it time for hospice?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 23, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

How do I know when it is time for hospice? I am caring for my husband. He is quite weak and needs assistance with bathing and dressing (although most days he is in a robe.) He is catheterized and has bled for the last four weeks. Yesterday he did not have any blood in the bag. How do you keep the doctors he sees knowing what is going on with him? He has a Primary Care Physician, an oncologist and a urologist. Lots of time one doctor doesn't know what the other one is doing. I have to make calls to inform them. I have trouble with the doctor prescribing a rx and the insurance says he can only have one pill a day, not two (this is not a narcotic). His sister has pancreatic cancer and her time left if very short only weeks left. Any advice? I am mentally and physically tired. He only has months left to live.

Thanks, crying a lot

Expert Answers

Andrew Putnam, M.D. is a Palliative Care physician at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

I am sorry about your husband. When someone is as sick as your husband is, it is appropriate to call a hospice that serves your area and talk with them. They offer many services that can be helpful including nurses visits and occasionally doctor's visits to your home. If you sign onto hospice, you would designate one of your husband's doctors to be his doctor for the hospice. That should be the one who knows him well if possible but also the one who seems to care the most about your husband's comfort. The hospice will help with coordinating care. Many times the confusion of care with different doctors can be controlled by involving hospice making its visits to the house and coordinating with one doctor. The hospice will help deal with the medications that help with his comfort.

Community Answers

Brenda s answered...

The best advice that I can give is to call your local hospice (or hospices) and ask for the type of services they can provide to you and your husband. Some hospices have palliative care and home care options in addition to traditional hospice care. Also, some hospices have education, support groups, and counseling for caregivers such as you whose loved ones may or may not be in hospice care. Ask the person you talk to over the phone if it is possible for a hospice professional to come to the house to evaluate your husband for hospice care. Usually a nurse or physician will come to your home at no charge to evaluate whether hospice care is an option.