Why Didn't the Doctor Tell Us About Hospice Sooner?

By Lisa Pahl, LCSW

Not long ago, I had a conversation with the daughter of a hospice patient who was upset.

She asked, “Why didn’t my mom’s doctor tell us about hospice sooner?”
Her mother was having Telehealth visits for over a year with her doctors because she was unable to leave her house due to edema from Congestive Heart Failure.

Her mother had been refusing to go to the ER for assessment/ treatment of her symptoms. Four times over the last year this was recommended. Four times she said no. She wanted to be at home. She did not want to return to the ER.

Her disease was advancing and advancing.

Her quality of life was declining and declining.

Finally, the physician referred her to palliative care after more than a year of living like this.

The patient quickly found out that she qualified for hospice care.

She came on to hospice and, within a week, her symptoms were better managed.

Her daughter also now had the support of the hospice nurse, physician, social worker, chaplain, and bath aids. She shared that she feels so much less alone in caring for her mom.

The daughter shared with me, her hospice social worker, “my mom has suffered needlessly for over a year because we didn’t know there was another option.”

We all need to be community educators, making sure everyone knows the options that are available at end of life. We need to keep communicating with medical providers who can begin to refer sooner.

Everyone deserves quality care at end of life.

Learn more about hospice and locate a provider in your area at Hospice Foundation of America. 

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