3 Criteria to Receive Hospice Care for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive, neurological disease caused by a loss of neurons that produce dopamine in the brain. In the early stages of PD, people experience tremors, loss of balance, stiffness in muscles, and slow movement. As the disease progresses, it will eventually reach the end-stage. These symptoms will become debilitating. 

Parkinson’s Disease: When is it Time for Hospice?

Knowing when it’s time for hospice care when living with Parkinson’s Disease can be difficult as the disease may take many years to progress and each person with the disease may exhibit a range of different symptoms. However, entering the end-stages of the disease (Stages 4 and 5), patients will have symptoms that will indicate that it is time to seek hospice assistance:

  1. Decline in ability to move, speak, or participate in activities of daily living (ADL) such as bathing, walking, preparing and eating meals. They may spend more time confined to a chair or bed, or completely bed or wheelchair bound.
  2. Experiencing symptoms of the final stages of Parkinson’s
    1. Difficulty breathing, even at rest
    2. Inability to eat or drink sufficiently and exhibiting weight loss
    3. Exhibiting other complications including pneumonia, sepsis, pyelonephritis, decubitus ulcers, or other comorbidities
  3. Have received a life-expectancy of six months or less from a doctor

How Hospice Helps People With Parkinson’s Disease

During Parkinson’s final stages, medications and treatments are generally no longer effective in controlling symptoms of the disease. This is when hospice care can provide care and support that helps both the patient and their loved ones. Care is provided wherever someone calls home – a private residence, assisted living or skilled nursing facility, or hospital. 

Benefits of Lower Cape Fear LifeCare’s Hospice Services

  • Manages pain, symptoms and anxiety associated with end-stage Parkinson’s to improve quality of life for the patient and their loved ones
  • Provides emotional and spiritual care thereby providing a whole-body approach to care
  • Provides clinical team support 24/7 – nights, weekends, and holidays
  • Provides education and support for family caregivers
  • Arranges for additional medications, supplies and equipment associated with the hospice diagnosis to be delivered
  • Coordinates care with all the patient’s healthcare providers
  • Assists in documenting an advance healthcare plan
  • Offers continuity of care if pain and symptoms cannot be managed in a residential setting in its home-like inpatient hospice care centers – available exclusively to our patients
  • Offers continued grief care and support for loved ones after death

Can I Afford Hospice Care?

Medicare pays for hospice services under the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Under this benefit all care, medications and medical supplies related to the hospice diagnosis are completely covered. The benefit allows for months of care – not just during the last weeks of life. 

Medicaid and most private insurances also have a hospice benefit that covers costs. For patients not receiving Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance benefits, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare never refuses care based on someone’s ability to pay.

What Do I Need to Do to Get Hospice Care?

There are many easy ways to start the process. You can certainly speak with your doctor about getting hospice care. You can also refer yourself or a loved one by filling out our online referral form. You can also call our patient access center at 800-207-6908. Once you refer yourself, or your loved one, a LCFL patient access specialist will be in touch with the next steps.  This will include an assessment to determine if you would qualify for the hospice care benefit.

If it isn’t quite time for hospice care, they may tell you about our palliative care service that also manages pain and symptoms for people living with advanced illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease.