Hospice began as a special way of helping cancer patients who wanted to be cared for at home. Now hospice takes care of many different life-limiting illnesses and sometimes there is more than one disease contributing to a patient’s poor prognosis. There are general guidelines that can help determine eligibility for hospice. These include weight loss, poor nutrition and an increase in distressing symptoms like pain and shortness of breath and the need for more help with activities of daily living. Frequent hospitalizations or emergency room visits may be a sign that the disease is progressing. For information on dementia, find out more at Dementia is a terminal illness; when do I call hospice?

Hospice is a choice. When someone with a life-limiting illness wants to shift their focus to comfort rather than cure and to be cared for at home, doctors will suggest hospice. Hospice may also be suggested when the family need more support.

Some of the life-threatening diseases that hospice and palliative care teams may help include:-

  • Cancer
  • Leukemia, Lymphoma
  • Lung disease – COPD, respiratory failure (pulmonary disease)
  • Heart Disease – Congestive Heart Failure
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Renal Failure (Kidney disease)
  • Cirrhosis and liver failure
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Stroke and Coma
  • HIV & AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

These are just some examples: any disease or diseases resulting in a limited-life expectancy for a person of any age could be appropriate for a hospice referral.