What Diagnosis Qualifies for Hospice Care?

We serve hospice patients with a variety of needs, and we have provided symptom management to those with a wide range of serious illnesses. By providing symptom relief for our patients, they’ve be able to spend more time living their days to the fullest, being surrounded by family and friends. 

But you may wonder what diagnosis qualifies for hospice care or when should you contact Lower Cape Fear LifeCare? 

We’ll answer these questions as well as outline what diagnosis qualifies for hospice care. 

What Diagnosis Qualifies for Hospice Care?

There is no one diagnosis or category of diseases that qualifies a person for hospice care. While most people associate hospice care with cancer, it is not limited to cancer patients.

To qualify for hospice care, you must:

    • Have a serious, life-limiting illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live
    • Have decided to stop all curative measures; this means you are no longer treating the disease.
    • Demonstrate a serious decline in function, including dependence on someone else to assist with basic activities of daily living
    • Have a life-limiting condition that has deteriorated over the last four to six months




What Do You Mean by a Serious Illness?

What diagnosis qualifies for hospice care? There are quite a few. Following are some life-limiting conditions that will qualify you for hospice care:

  • Liver disease

Liver disease can lead to liver cancer and liver failure. In fact, chronic liver disease was the 12th leading cause of death for Americans in 2020.  That year, 51,642 adults in the U.S. died from liver disease There are several conditions, such as obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes, that can contribute to liver disease. (For more information, visit the National Liver Foundation site.

  • Stroke

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2020, an estimated 1 in 6 deaths from cardiovascular disease was due to a stroke. A stroke can dramatically affect your functionality, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks. 

  • AIDS

Those with HIV/AIDS are susceptible to other serious diseases such as pneumonia, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Due to the wide variety of symptoms they may exhibit, comprehensive care is necessary for this diagnosis that qualifies for hospice care.

  • Congestive Heart Failure

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 6.2 million Americans have heart failure. You may be at greater risk of developing the illness if you have:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Heart valve disorders

Other risk factors include smoking, a poor diet and lack of exercise.

  • End-stage renal (kidney) disease

Kidney failure can be caused by several chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune disorders or nephrotic syndrome. 

  • Cancer

This is one of the most common diagnoses we see among hospice patients. When curative treatment is no longer sought, we step in with assistance in managing symptoms and providing help for the entire family. 

According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. 

This stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Patients with COPD have breathing problems and airflow blockage. Roughly 16 million people in the U.S. have COPD. There is no cure for COPD. Patients in the end stage of this disease will find it increasingly difficult to breathe, experience chronic respiratory failure, and in certain cases, they may become delirious.

  • Parkinson’s disease 

We go into detail about Parkinson’s disease and how we can help those with it in an earlier article.  This disorder affects the brain and results in uncontrollable movements, shaking and difficulty with coordination and balance. As the disease progresses, those with Parkinson’s find it more difficult to complete the tasks of everyday living, and may even lose the ability to talk and walk. 

Although Huntington’s disease is rare, it can have devastating effects on those who have it. This disease is caused by the breakdown of the brain’s nerve cells, which will eventually cause difficulty moving, problems with thinking and even increase the chances of developing  severe depression. 

Our hospice health care workers can help minimize some of the symptoms of Huntington’s disease so patients can live a life that is as full as possible. 

  • Multiple sclerosis

This seriously disabling disease occurs when the body’s own immune system damages the sheath covering your nerves. This makes it difficult for your brain to communicate with the rest of your body. 

In certain cases, those with multiple sclerosis may lose the ability to walk at all.  It can also cause slurred speech, dizziness and extreme fatigue. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, though its effects can be managed. This is one example of how our hospice care team can help minimize the symptoms of a serious disease. 

Remember, as we mentioned earlier, the main hospice criteria is that the hospice patient must have six months or less to live and they have decided to no longer treat the disease, but allow it to “run its course.”

When Should I Contact Lower Cape Fear LifeCare?

Signs that it is time to contact hospice can occur when:

  • The patient shows increased weakness and fatigue
  • There is an increase in the number of visits to the emergency room
  • There is consistent weight loss
  • There is a decline in ability to take care of themselves, including eating, getting dressed or walking
  • There is an increase in the number of falls that occur

Who Pays for Hospice?

Most private insurance companies will pay for hospice provided you meet the criteria outlined above. In addition, Medicare and Medicaid will pay for hospice. We encourage you to seek specific information from these government agencies to ensure you or your loved one meet all the qualifications. 

Because we are a non-profit hospice, we are dedicated to treating anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. 

How Do I Get Hospice Care?

We’ve made it simple for you or your loved one to get the services you need. Anyone can make a referral to hospice: doctors, neighbors, family members or even the patient themselves. All you have to do is fill out our online referral form. You can also call our patient access center at 800-207-6908.