Should We Wait for the Doctor to Suggest Hospice?

The truth of the matter is that many patients near the end-of-life journey often wait too long to seek hospice care as a treatment option. This may only give the patient and family a few short weeks or sometimes just days or hours to receive care, which means they did not experience the full benefit of what hospice provides.

People with terminal diagnoses should be having frank conversations with their doctors about where they are in the disease progression and what their goals are for end-of-life long before their last days; unfortunately, this doesn’t happen for many.   

The time a patient receives hospice care has been substantiated by many studies. According to a study published in the September 2017 edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, many people who benefit from hospice care wait too long to request it.

During the last year of their life, only 43 percent of the participants, 70 years of age or older, utilized hospice. The average duration of hospice care was 12.5 days. Results suggested that hospice care should have been started earlier to reduce pain and suffering as well as greatly improve the quality of life and receive the supportive care that is needed.


There are two key signs that point to considering hospice for a loved one nearing the end of life.

  • Increased difficulty with daily activities of life including dressing, walking, bathing, using the toilet, eating and a general lack of interest in taking care of themselves.
  • Symptoms such as depression, shortness of breath, pain, sleeping most of the time, lack of appetite, unintended weight loss and overall health going downhill. 

For more signs click here and download the checklist.


This question comes up frequently with patients and families wondering if they should wait for the doctor to bring up hospice as an option. The short answer is no. Patients and families should be proactive and ask their doctor if he/she thinks it might be time for a different treatment of care when their loved one’s health is no longer stable.  

Another question that should be asked is, do you think my loved one will be living in a year or even the next six months. Knowing where the patient is in the disease progression is important.  Time is important because it allows you to make a more informed decision about the care and treatment options. Hospice focuses on reducing the pain and symptoms of the disease, which in many cases stabilizes their condition and improves their quality of life.  

Doctor to Suggest Hospice

Remember you are your loved one’s number one advocate. Speak up and ask questions. No need to wait…anyone can make a referral!

Some physicians wait until the family suggests hospice care as an option, or some choose to wait until the very end for various reasons. It is highly advisable to recognize when to reach out for hospice care to ensure your loved one gets the help they need and deserve.  

At WV Caring, we believe a person does not have to wait for a doctor to recommend hospice to receive care. You can make a referral for a loved one or even yourself, especially if you begin to recognize any of the symptoms listed above. Waiting to make the call for hospice care can prolong the painful end-of-life stages your loved one will experience. Ultimately, we want what is best for you and your loved one, and during the end stages of their life, hospice care might be the answer. 

Studies show that hospice patients live longer with a better quality of life.

In a study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that hospice patients lived on average 29 more days than non-hospice patients. And, having one more month can mean a lifetime for many. Time to do what matters most, time to say goodbyes, time to love, laugh and be around those you love. 


Our care is most effective when we can establish a plan of care early in the last stage of life. A person does not have to be bedfast to be a hospice patient. Persons receiving our care can still lead full and active lives for as long as they can.

An early referral can mean the patient and family will have the full experience of the benefits and support that hospice care provides.  It’s easy to make a referral just call us at 1-866-656-9790, on our website or you can visit one of our offices. Once you make the referral, our team will reach out to your physician for orders and records. Then our staff will meet the patient and family to assess and go over our services. 

As Medicare’s first proven coordinated care model, hospice is a program that works. For decades, West Virginia Caring has helped generations of patients and families in Marion County for years transition through life-limiting illnesses. 

We provide comprehensive symptom management, as well as emotional and spiritual support. Our goal is for our patients and family to spend valuable time together for as long as possible. 

Our program offers the following:

  • Well-coordinated care for persons with a life-limiting illness.
  • A team approach to care that involves the patient, their doctor, plus the hospice nurse, home health aide, social worker, chaplain and volunteers.
  • Services available on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Reimbursement through Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance.

The Hospice Medicare Benefit is covered under Medicare Plan A, with no out-of-pocket expenses related to the terminal diagnosis includes setting includes:

  • Nurses
  • Physicians
  • Social Workers
  • Clinical Nursing Aids
  • Medical Equipment and Supplies
  • Medications
  • Chaplains
  • Volunteers
  • Grief and Loss Counseling


If your loved one is living with a severe progressive illness, our team at WV Caring understands the challenges you are facing. We want you to know that you are not alone. It’s hard to know what decisions to make and when you need to make them, so you receive the right care at the right time. WV Caring provides medical care, education and emotional support to the patient and their loved ones. We offer compassionate, patient-focused care to wherever your loved one calls home. 

If your loved one needs hospice care, let’s start the process now. Please give us a call at 1-866-656-9790 or visit our Access Center at 1406 County Club Rd. Fairmont, West Virginia 26554.