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What Are the Requirements for Hospice?

May 13, 2022, Counseling & Support, Gilchrist, Grief, Hospice, Social Work

What Are the Requirements for Hospice?

If you have a loved one who is seriously ill, you may be wondering about the requirements for hospice. Generally, a person is eligible for hospice if they have a life-limiting condition and a doctor determines that their life expectancy is six months or less if the illness runs its normal course. Hospice is not limited to certain diagnoses. Individuals may have any type of illness, including cancer or end-stage heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease.

Hospice is ideal for people who are no longer responding to medical attempts to cure the disease or who decide they no longer want to pursue these treatments. A person’s goals may shift to comfort, relief from symptoms and the desire to stay home as long as possible.

Signs That It Might Be Time to Consider Hospice

People who are ready for hospice commonly experience the following:

  • Progressive decline in medical condition
  • Unintentional weight loss of more than 10% in the previous six months
  • Inability to participate in daily activities independently
  • Pain that is difficult to control
  • Frequent health crises, including 3 or more emergency room visits in the last 6 months
  • Medical complications such as shortness of breath, agitation or recurrent infections
  • Increased sitting or lying down during the day
  • Need for more assistance with bathing, eating, getting dressed or walking

When Is the Best Time to Start Hospice?

The earlier hospice is started, the more it can help. Many people do not start hospice soon enough to experience the full benefits of hospice care. Often, hospice is not started until the final days of life. As a result, people miss out on all that hospice can offer and may end up spending difficult days in the hospital or emergency room.

Studies have shown that people who enroll in hospice live an average of 29 days longer than those who do not. The increase is often due to the added coordination of care and because they are no longer receiving advanced treatments that place added stress on the body.

Starting services earlier also allows time for hospice teams to manage symptoms, educate the family about the course of illness and help them with decision-making and planning. It provides the chance to address grief and help patients find meaning and acceptance at the end of life.

The most frequent feedback heard from families is they wish they had known about hospice sooner. One of the best ways to make sure you or a loved one benefit fully from hospice is to talk about it with your physician.

Learn more about Gilchrist Hospice Care

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