Who is Eligible for Hospice Care?
The diagnosis of a serious illness is an emotional and trying time for both patients and their families. While they naturally pursue curative treatment in the early stages, there may come a time when curative treatment is no longer working or when the patient decides to stop curative treatment in favor of comfort and quality of life. This is the time for hospice.
Too often families delay hospice care because they don’t realize that their loved one may already be eligible for hospice care. Instead they wait until their loved one’s final days, missing out on a tremendous amount of support and resources.
Hospice Care Criteria
When considering who is eligible for hospice care, it is important to look at what’s going on in the patient’s life. Some of the things we look at include:
- Whether the patient has been diagnosed with 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.
- Recurring infections.
- Progressive weight loss.
- More frequent falls.
- Increasing weakness, fatigue, and somnolence.
- Deteriorating mental abilities.
- Changes in cognitive and functional abilities.
- Compromised Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as eating, bathing, dressing, transferring/walking, toileting and continence.
- Skin breakdown.
- A decline in the patient’s condition.
There is no specific number of symptoms required for hospice care. We look at the whole picture of what the patient is currently exhibiting to determine if the patient is eligible or will soon be eligible for hospice care.
Which illnesses are eligible for hospice care?
Hospice care is not just for cancer patients. Half of all hospice patients are facing other chronic medical conditions that can benefit from the symptom management that hospice provides.
Some of these diseases include:
- Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA) / Stroke
- Congestive Heart Failure / Cardiopulmonary Disease
- COPD / Cardiopulmonary Disease
- Liver Disease
- Neurological Conditions (non-Alzheimer’s dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and Huntington’s disease)
- Renal Disease
It is important to note that the presence of two or more chronic illnesses at the same time is also a factor to be considered when determining who is eligible for hospice care. If a patient does not qualify for hospice care or if they are still continuing curative care, Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care also offers a palliative care program to provide added support.
Benefits of Hospice Care
Hospice care offers a team of support to patients and their families. Care can be provided in the home or wherever the patient is currently residing – including assisted living facilities and nursing homes. When patients are able to have their symptoms managed at home, they no longer need to rush to the emergency room for pain, trouble breathing, digestive issues or wound care.
Other benefits of hospice care include:
- Visits from nurses and hospice aides to provide nursing and personal care.
- Social work visits to assist with finding resources and end-of-life planning.
- Chaplain visits to provide spiritual support.
- All medication related to the patient’s terminal illness is provided at no cost.
- All medical equipment and supplies related to the patient’s terminal illness is provided at no cost.
- Volunteer visits to provide companionship and allow families to take a break.
- Bereavement support for the family.
To learn more about what Crossroads can provide to patient and their families and the qualifications for hospice care, please call us at 1-888-564-3405.
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