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Last Updated on September 10, 2021 by Frank Davis
There is a term called terminal illness, also known as an end stage disease, which is defined as a disease or condition which cannot be cured or treated and in the future will likely result in death for the patient. As a general rule, terminal illness is a progressive disease, regardless of what treatment is administered. If the disease runs its normal course, the life expectancy for a terminal patient in hospice is approximately six months or less.
The most common symptoms associated with a terminal illness include pain, fatigue, anorexia, cachexia, nausea, vomiting, constipation, delirium, dyspnea, and nausea. In most cases, the symptoms of the illness are managed by hospice care utilizing medication and therapy to manage the symptoms. In studies, a higher quality of life has been reported for patients who have hospice care versus those who do not.
What Qualifies as a Terminal Illness for Hospice
In order for hospice care to be approved, you must be in the advanced stages of the terminal illness. If the patient’s illness has progressed so far that a doctor estimates that the patient has a six-month life expectancy or less, it would be considered terminal. There are a number of conditions or terminal illnesses that can qualify for hospice care and I have listed a few of them below:
- Adult failure to thrive
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Circulatory/Heart Disease
- Respiratory Disease
Does Hospice Require a Terminal Diagnosis
Yes, hospice is only available to patients who are terminally ill. It is usually the doctor who gives the patient a diagnosis after a thorough examination. This is not simply a matter of giving a patient a six month diagnosis, as that is not the whole picture. During an assessment, the doctor would have to check certain criteria to see if the patient’s condition is acceptable. The patient is now able to receive hospice care once he or she has been certified.
Hospice care requirements include the following:
- Have Medicare Part A, Medicaid, or a private insurance
- A doctor needs to certify that you have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of 6 months or less
- Understand that you must forgo curative treatments
- Get services from a Medicare certified hospice
What Does Hospice do at the End of Life
At the end of life, hospice care is a means of providing palliative care to patients who are in the final stages of a terminal illness. Through hospice care, the patient’s quality of life is improved by reducing the level of pain and symptoms associated with a terminal illness. There is assistance provided physically, emotionally, and spiritually to the patient, his or her family, and the caregiver. The hospice program is designed to ensure a patient is treated in a way that provides for the greatest comfort possible.
Providing hospice care involves putting together a team of professionals who each have a very important role to play in taking care of the patient. The team consists of a mix of doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, home health aides, and volunteers. In most cases, the nurses are the main point of contact in coordinating services for the patient between members of the team. Medical supplies, medical equipment, and medications are all delivered the same day to your doorstep as well.
We strive to meet the needs of those who suffer from life-terminal conditions in terms of managing pain and symptoms. In case you believe a friend or a family member may be eligible for hospice care, please call us at (818)433-0068. In each step of the process, our team will be there to assist you.
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