My mother was diagnosed with dementia about 4 years ago. She is now currently receiving palliative care, but she doesn't move much and has been incontinent for several years.
In general, her health is good but her mind is leaving. Could her dementia qualify for hospice so she can get more help coming to her home? I don’t want her to leave me without a fight.
Dear Stressed Daughter,
Thank you for reaching out. We here at Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care assist a lot of patients living with various stages of dementia, so we understand their end-of-life journey is unique and so is what you are going through as a loved one and caregiver. Please know that we are here to help.
It sounds like you are keeping a close eye on your mother’s symptoms and what she’s experiencing as her disease progresses. That’s an important step to helping your mom stay comfortable. Understanding the various stages of an illness and being proactive with educating yourself on what she might be experiencing now — or in the future — helps with her overall level of care. It’s also helpful because nothing will come as a shock when her conditions progress.
I like to emphasize the importance of disease education and understanding disease progression because it not only helps to keep your loved one comfortable, but also helps with managing their symptoms.
When it comes to qualifying for hospice, eligibility requirements include:
- A diagnosis of a life-limiting condition with a prognosis of six months or less if their disease runs its normal course
- Frequent hospitalizations in the past six months
- Progressive weight loss
- Increasing weakness & fatigue, and somnolence
- A change in cognitive and functional abilities
- Compromised Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring/walking, and continence
From what you’ve shared about your mother’s symptoms, it seems like she may be at this point. But at this stage, it is very important to note that it is not about – as you stated – “leaving without a fight.” People often confuse hospice and palliative care. While palliative care can be performed for non-terminal patients who are still pursuing curative treatment (or fighting, as some may call it), hospice focuses on making the patient’s life as comfortable as possible when curative treatment is no longer an option. That’s not to say that hospice is about “giving up.” It’s simply about bringing in extra support to make the most of the time your mother has left.
To get this started, you can reach out to Crossroads today. Call us at 888-564-3405 or reach out anytime on our website here so that a member of the Crossroads team can help you begin the process of getting your mom evaluated so that she can begin to experience the benefits of hospice care as soon as possible.
Once you have submitted the initial evaluation paperwork, we will arrange for you and your mother to be visited by a nurse for a proper evaluation. During that evaluation, our nurse will take note of her condition and where she is in her disease progression. For someone in your mom’s position, we’ll be observing her nonverbal cues, vital signs, or any signs of agitation or discomfort. These signs would demonstrate to us how your mom is doing and how much care she will be needing from us.
It’s best if any other family members who are responsible for making decisions about her care are there. This evaluation will also be shared with your mom’s primary physician.
On hospice care, your mom will begin receiving care from our entire hospice team. This team includes our nurses, doctors, chaplains, hospice aides, social workers, and volunteer team members. The needs of your mom and your family will ultimately drive the activities of this team as the services provided by Crossroads are entirely patient-centered.
Throughout your mothers end-of-life journey we are here for you both, and we want to ensure that she doesn’t leave without a fight and that she’s as comfortable as possible. Let’s start the process today.
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care
For more information on hospice eligibility requirements, give us a call at 888-564-3405.
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