How to Know it’s time for Hospice

Russ Krengel Checklists, Hospice

Excerpts from Medical Reporter Stacy Burling’s article in June 22, 2018

Predicting the time frame for the passing of an individual is difficult.  As such, the standard question used by many clinicians to determine appropriateness for hospice is “Would you be surprised if your loved one died within six months?”

The article from Stacy Burling in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s online version taps some of the most knowledgeable people in Hospice and Palliative care to identify other key indicators to help you…How to Know it’s time for Hospice.

Signs it may be time for Hospice

  1. Needing help with an increasing number of key daily activities, such as dressing, bathing, walking, eating, or using the toilet.
  2. Eating and drinking less.
  3. Talking more about people who have died than people who are living.
  4. Social withdrawal, especially in formerly outgoing people.
  5. It’s harder to get the patient to the doctor or hospital.
  6. Current treatments aren’t working, and doctors say there’s nothing new to offer.
  7. In people with dementia, trouble with swallowing is an important harbinger.
  8. There have been multiple trips to the hospital or emergency department in the last few months, and the patient hasn’t bounced back after returning home.
  9. Pain is getting worse.
  10. The patient is experiencing infections or pressure ulcers.

While the above list is far from complete and every person must be treated as their own individual, the list does provide some guidance of what to look for when considering hospice.



Contributors to Stacy Burling’s article include:

  • Lori Bishop, VP Palliative and Advanced Care, National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization
  • Susan Foster, RN, Penn Wissahickon Hospice
  • Nina O’Connor, MD, Penn Wissahickon Hospice
  • Scott Halprin, Director, University of Pennsylvania, Palliative & Advanced Illness Research Center
  • Salimah Meghan, Penn’s School of Nursing
  • Diane Meier, MD, Geriatrician, Mount Sinai School of Medicine