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Hospice Care

Hospice care is commonly confused with palliative care. As we discussed in last week's blog post, palliative care provides care aimed to offer comfort and relief of symptoms for anyone with a chronic and/or life-limiting disease starting from diagnosis. Hospice care on the other hand, is reserved for those who either no longer have a curative option or for those who have chosen not to pursue treatment. Hospice is used to provide a peaceful death while allowing the person to remain in a familiar and comfortable environment rather than in a hospital.

Eligibility Criteria

It is never easy for those impacted by PD to decide when hospice is needed. Make sure you, your loved ones, and your health care team have an open communication about what to expect with end stage PD and when hospice might be needed. That is ultimately a decision that works best for the person with PD and their family, but let's learn about what needs to occur in order to qualify for hospice.

Some end-stage Parkinson’s disease hospice criteria can include the following:

  • Critically impaired breathing. This can include the need for supplemental oxygen.

  • Requiring use of a wheelchair or being bed bound

  • Unintelligible speech

  • Continuing weight loss due to inability to eat or drink sufficiently

  • Inability to independently perform the activities of daily living involving dressing, grooming, eating, toileting, etc.

  • Complications include aspiration pneumonia, sepsis, or stage 3 or 4 pressure ulcers

To qualify for hospice programs that are reimbursed by Medicare, it is required to have a physician certification that states there is a terminal illness diagnosis with a life expectancy of less than 6 months. If you or your lived one lives past the 6 months while enrolled in hospice, at the end of the 6 month period the hospice agency will re-evaluate the established care plan and decide to either re-enroll or discharge the individual. Hospice care can provide valuable bereavement services for the caregivers and the family for up to 11 months after the death of a loved one.

Where do I receive care?

Hospice care can be provided in the home, in a nursing home, in an assisted living facility, or in a hospice house. The most common type of hospice service used by people with Parkinson's is home hospice. This means the person receiving care can stay in the comfort of their own home during the last few days to months of life surrounded by friends and family.

Staff in involved

Hospice care staff can encompass a physician, nurse, social worker, home health aides, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, music therapists, and pastoral services. Some agencies also have volunteers who can visit person receiving care and spend time with them. Durable medical equipment, medical supplies, and medication can also be provided. Counseling can also be offered.

If you or your loved one are wondering about hospice care, talk with your neurologist. It is never too late to get more information and start planning.



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