Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hospice and Medical Conditions
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the signs that hospice is right for heart disease patients?
One sign is that the patient has received optimal treatment for his/her disease and is not a candidate for further surgical or medical intervention, but there are others.
- The patient has advanced congestive heart failure or advanced coronary disease with frequent episodes of angina
- The patient has an abnormal heart due to disease and suffers from significant symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath or functional decline
- The patient has received optimal treatment for his/her disease and has chosen not to pursue advanced specialized treatment
What are the signs that hospice is right for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients?
Two signs are if the patient can say only a few words, and has been through several years of decline.
- The patient can no longer walk and may be bed-bound
- The patient is totally dependent on others for eating, dressing and grooming
- The patient shows signs of severe anxiety
Why would an Alzheimer’s patient get hospice care?
Hospice can provide additional comfort and relieve some of the burden for caregivers.
At the end of their lives, Alzheimer’s patients present several challenges to their caregivers. When these patients are in the last stages of life, hospice can relieve some of the burden—physically, emotionally and spiritually—for caregivers as well as help the patient’s end-of-life experience be comfortable and dignified.
What are the signs that hospice is right for ALS patients?
Once the patient is bed-bound and has unintelligible speech, it may be time to consider hospice.
Additional signs include:
- Progression* from independent ambulation to wheelchair or bed-bound
- Progression* from normal to barely intelligible or unintelligible speech
- Progression* from normal to pureed diet
- Progression* from independence in most or all activities of daily living (e.g., toileting, feeding, dressing, etc.) to needing major assistance with these tasks
- Choice to forego feeding tubes for hydration and nutrition and supportive ventilation for breathing
* Progression is defined as the development of severe neurologic disability over a 12-month period.
What are the signs that hospice is right for cancer patients?
Rapid weakening and ineffective treatment are two signs, and there are others.
- The patient is rapidly weakening and the cancer is progressing
- The treatment intervention is not fully effective
- The burden of treatment on the patient and family outweighs the benefits
Can a patient receive chemotherapy and hospice services at the same time?
It depends whether the chemotherapy is associated with cure or with comfort.
If the chemotherapy were being used to attempt to cure the cancer, hospice would be inappropriate. However, a patient receiving hospice services may receive chemo for reasons of comfort and quality of life; for example, to shrink a tumor that is pressing on an organ.
What are the signs that hospice is right for Parkinson’s disease patients?
They include continuous decline in function, coma, and others.
Other signs include:
- Persistent vegetative state
- Severely reduced level of consciousness
- A significant compromise in breathing and/or swallowing