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Is Mom Ready for Hospice?



"My mother is declining quickly right now. She keeps losing weight and is well under 100 pounds at this point. She’s 92, and according to her, “ready to meet her maker.” She mentions death quite frequently. 

I’m starting to believe that Mom will pass away soon. She just seems to be fading away. Today, I want to ask if Mom should receive hospice care. I struggle to accept that I could be losing her, though the reality seems to be staring me in the face. 

Do I approach this with Mom, her doctor, or my siblings? Or do I just call a hospice and find out what it’s all about?"



Collecting information and speaking with multiple sources is always a good idea.

Your mother is talking about death because it’s on her mind. As hard as that is for you to hear, it might be her way to prepare and seek validation. She likely has a sense about what’s going on with her body and may be preparing herself and you.

Go with your mother to a doctor’s appointment and ask about this continued weight loss. It’s okay to ask the doctor if hospice care is appropriate at this time. The general rule for hospice is that a patient must have a prognosis of six months or less to live. A doctor must certify that prognosis and the appropriateness for hospice to be admitted. Others do very well under this type of care and graduate out of hospice.

If your mother’s doctor recommends hospice care, the clinic is likely to make recommendations. Do your own research, also, and talk to a few hospices. The ultimate selection is up to you and your mother. 

All hospices are mandated to offer the main core of services. Some layer on additional care, such as music, massage, and pet therapies. All hospices are mandated to have a volunteer program and bereavement follow-up for a year, too. Drugs, medical supplies, and medical equipment are also included as part of the benefit.

Do know that hospice is a type of care, and most of it is delivered in the home with family support. There are also hospice facilities for those needing 24-hour assistance and without the family members to provide it. There is a charge for room and board unless the hospice patient is acutely ill.

Hospice is indeed a comprehensive benefit for those who need it, and it has become quite common for Americans to take advantage of this care in the last months of life.

Connect with your siblings and share your thoughts before making any moves. This is a sensitive subject and most of us need to process our emotions before proceeding. It goes without saying that you and mom should talk about her end-of-life wishes. It doesn’t sound urgent, though I recommend you move through the process over the next few weeks.

Your mother may be at a pivotal stage of life. She’s lucky to have you to help navigate her through it.