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Daughter asks, “When should we call hospice?”

Dear Carol: My 87-year-old mother has Alzheimer’s disease. She came down with shingles a few weeks ago, which is being treated, but she’s still in terrible pain. She also has COPD and diabetes. Since the shingles attack, she has gotten very weak and just wants to sleep. She only eats if we feed her, and then she has to be coaxed to eat even a small amount. The family has been taking turns staying with her, but she mainly wants to sleep. Should we call hospice? When do people decide it’s the right time to call? Does the doctor contact hospice or do we?  Her doctor hasn’t mentioned hospice, but he says she likely will continue to get weaker.  -Melanie

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