According to the The President of National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization:
“ There are no better providers more skilled at providing palliative care at the end of life than hospice professionals and the dying deserve the best care that our society can offer. ”
He adds that it is important to recognize that, “half of hospice patients received care for less than twenty days” and “With drops in both the median and average length of service, there is concern that hospice providers are not reaching the patients and family caregivers who need hospice support in a timely manner.” 
It raises the question as to whether patients and their families are waiting too long before taking advantage of Hospice services that are available to them.
Your doctor can tell you when you are eligible for hospice care. Medicare considers a patient eligible for hospice  when their life expectancy is 6 months or less (if the disease runs its normal course). Typically, when surgery, radiation therapy, medicine and other traditional treatments will not improve their condition or extend their life, a formal request or referral is made by the patient’s doctor and is followed by a hospice RN visit to verify the condition. If you live longer than 6 months, you can still get hospice care, as long as the hospice recertifies that you’re terminally ill. Hospice care is provided in two 90-day periods followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods.
A Personal Choice
Though doctors determine the patient’s eligibility, it is still up to the patient and their family to decide when to start receiving hospice service. It is difficult to accept that a loved one may not be with us much longer, but while we cannot control the length of their life, transitioning to hospice care is the right step towards effecting their quality of life. It is essentially a transition from aggressive treatments to a focus on keeping the patient as comfortable and pain-free as possible as they approach their end of life.
In some cases the patient may prefer to be cared for by family members and those family members may be able to provide quality, personal attention. But in most cases, family members have limited time and their other personal and financial responsibilities may suffer as a result. They likely also lack the skills to provide the kind of quality care that a professional can provide. Handing off many of the daily chores related to caring for a seriously ill loved one also allows the family to focus their attention on the vital emotional needs of the patient and each other during this very sensitive time. In addition to providing the proper medical attention, the hospice nursing team can also assist in managing activities, entertainment, and family visits, all within the comfort and familiarity of the patient’s own home environment.
If your loved one does not qualify for hospice care and they still need a degree of medical attention that you can not provide, please consider Family Comfort Hospice’s in-home palliative care service provided by our caring and compassionate team of professional healthcare providers in Scottsdale, Mesa, and the entire metro-Phoenix, AZ Valley.