When a patient is facing a life-threatening illness, patients and their family will do whatever is necessary to obtain the best care possible.

In these cases, hospice care plays an important role in providing a valuable service to both families and patients. Hospice care aims to improve the patient’s quality of life through home care nursing services and support the family. However, patients must be eligible for hospice care.

What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is a form of palliative care that focuses on relieving symptoms caused by a serious illness once a patient has exhausted all possible medical treatments or is approaching the end of their life. Like palliative care, hospice care utilizes a team approach to provide physical, emotional, spiritual, and medical support for the patient and their family.

Hospice care may be offered at any place chosen by the patient or the patient’s family, including a nursing home, care facility, hospital, or at the patient’s home. The ultimate goal of hospice care is to ensure the patient is as comfortable as possible.

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Who Is Eligible For Hospice Care?

Medicare guidelines for hospice admissions generally cover most major terminal illnesses. These conditions may include:

  • Dysphagia leading to inadequate nutritional intake or recurrent aspiration
  • Systolic blood pressure is below 90 systolic, or progressive postural hypotension
  • Increasing ER visits, hospitalizations or physician follow-up
  • Multiple progressive Stage 3 or Stage 4 pressure ulcers
  • Frequent falls or increasing difficulty with balance and weakness
  • Increasing lethargy/sleepiness
  • Uncontrolled pain, shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and anxiety
  • Multiple, recurrent infections
  • Patient appears to be “giving up” physically and emotionally

Patients and their doctor, family members, and the hospice care professional can explore whether the patient is eligible for hospice care. The three qualifiers for hospice care include low life expectancy, lack of improvement in the patient’s condition, and an unexpected health event.

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Patient Life Expectancy

Patients diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a life expectancy of six months or less qualify for hospice care. The patient’s medical status must be certified by a doctor, and the medical director of the hospice organization must agree with the physician’s assessment.

2. Lack Of Improvement In Patient Condition

Patients who undergo treatment for a life-threatening disease but don’t see an improvement in their condition over time may qualify for hospice care.

In addition, if the patient realizes they aren’t improving and no longer wishes to receive treatment in the hospital, they may opt to transfer to hospice care. This form of care is especially helpful if a patient becomes anxious about the prospect of dying and seeks emotional and spiritual comfort in the care of hospice professionals.

3. The Patient Endures An Unexpected Health Event

If a patient with a terminal illness suffers an acute health event, such as a stroke or heart attack, they may require hospice care. They will be assessed by a hospice nurse to see if they qualify for hospice care.

Patients diagnosed with a terminal illness need all the support and family time they can get during this time. Hospice care is designed to help patients endure the pain, suffering, and anxiety that may come at the end of their life.

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