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Health Care
Oct 12, 2021

7 Signs It May Be Time For Hospice Or Palliative Care

Sponsored Content provided by Kelly Erola - Chief Medical Officer, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare

All of us get concerned and worried when our loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness. As the disease progresses, we notice signs that specialized care, such as hospice or palliative care, may be needed. We hate to think our loved one is getting worse, so we may keep telling ourselves this is just a temporary setback and that our loved one will improve.

Many times, we don’t even want to consider these types of care unless a doctor tells us it is necessary. But waiting for your doctor to recommend care may deny both your loved one and your family the improved quality of life hospice and palliative care provide.

It’s important to know that anyone can refer someone for hospice or palliative care to improve quality of life for themselves or someone they know.

Palliative care is for people of any age and any stage of illness while curative treatment is ongoing and can begin at time of diagnosis. This type of specialized medical care helps control pain, manage symptoms, and reduce stresses while someone receives the treatment they need for their illness. It does its best work when added to the patient’s care plan as early in the disease process as possible.

Hospice care is for those living with a serious illness whose current prognosis indicates a life expectancy of six months or less. At its core is an interdisciplinary team that develops an individualized plan of care based on what is most important to the patient and their loved one. Getting assessed for care and starting hospice care early is important as studies prove that hospice care may also lengthen life expectancy. Unfortunately, most people wait until it is too late to reap many of the benefits hospice care offers.

Signs that may indicate it’s time to find out if hospice or palliative care may be appropriate for you or a loved one:

  1. Unexplained weight loss
  2. Spending more time confined to a bed or chair – decreased alertness and increased time sleeping
  3. More frequent falls
  4. Increased need for medication due to uncontrolled pain or symptoms
  5. Shortness of breath
  6. Difficulties performing the tasks of daily living: bathing, getting out of bed, getting dressed, walking, or preparing and eating meals
  7. Increased number of trips to the ER and multiple hospitalizations
If you are noticing these signs in yourself or a loved one, you should consider talking to one of Lower Cape Fear LifeCare’s professionals by calling 800-733-1476. We can schedule an assessment to determine if either of these types of care could benefit you or your loved one.
Or, you can take our short quiz Which Care is Right - www.whichcare.org . It can help you determine if hospice or palliative care may be appropriate for you or your loved one.

Kelly Erola, MD, FAAHPM, FAAFP, is currently the Chief Medical Officer for Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, based in Wilmington, NC, where she has worked since 2017. Previously, she was Chief Medical Officer for Hospice Savannah, Inc. for 16 years and physician leader of the Steward Center for Palliative Care. Dr. Erola is board certified in hospice and palliative care medicine and has been involved full-time in palliative care since 2002.

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