When Can Hospice Help?

Published On 07/11/2011

Hospice is available to patients with any life-limiting conditions that no longer respond to curative treatment. Hospice may be appropriate for the situations listed below, as well as many others. 

For patients with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, when:

  • Swallowing becomes difficult.
  • There is a loss of bowel and bladder control
  • The patient is unable to speak, dress and feed him/herself.
  • Weight loss continues.

For patients with heart disease/congestive heart failure, when:

  • Fatigue is severe
  • The patient has shortness of breath and/or chest pain when at rest.
  • There is chronic fluid build up in chest and legs.
  • Hospital stays occur often.

For patients with lung disease, when:

  • There is poor control of symptoms.
  • Shortness of breath becomes disabling.
  • There is a dependency on oxygen.
  • Hospital stays occur often.

For patients with cancer, when:

  • The disease spreads to other organs (metastasis).
  • Treatment no longer slows down the disease.
  • Weight loss continues.

For stroke patients, when:

  • The patient is in a coma or persistent vegetative state—damage that cannot be cured.
  • Swallowing becomes difficult.
  • There is a need for total care.

For patients with end-stage kidney disease, when:

  • Fluid build-up in abdomen and legs becomes severe.
  • Hospital stays occur often.
  • Dialysis or transplant is not desired.

For patients with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), when:

  • It is difficult for patient to take care of him/herself.
  • Swallowing and breathing become difficult.
  • Muscles begin to deteriorate or become stiff.
  • Weight loss continues.

For patients with AIDS, when:

  • It is difficult for patient to take care of him/herself.
  • Medication no longer slows down the disease.
  • Infections are increasing.
  • Weight loss and weakness continue.

For patients with multi-system breakdown, when:

  • There is multiple organ failure, such as heart disease and chronic lung disease.
  • There is a continued decline in overall health.

More Information

To see if hospice care is appropriate for you and your family, ask your doctor or contact Methodist Hospice at 901.516.1600.