It is an unfortunate misconception that hospice care is only for those expected to die in a few weeks or a “place” for the dying and hopeless people with terminal illnesses. Hospice care is in fact meant to serve those who are suffering from a terminal illness, yes, but was developed to provide care and support to sustain quality of life. When a terminally ill patient and their loved ones embrace hospice care for what it really is一a health plan that focuses on improving one’s quality of life, it becomes an option that centers on caring instead of curing which allows the family to spend their energy and attention on what matters. 

In fact, statistics suggest that roughly 53.8% of Medicare beneficiaries chose and received hospice services as part of their plan of care. That was a 4% increase in hospice patients compared to the previous year.  It is a testament to the benefits that come with partnering your car with a hospice team. Families should never make assumptions that their loved one won’t qualify. Speaking to our experienced specialists will help you determine the qualifications and next steps.  This is how Cardinal Hospice helps take the pressure off of your family, we help every step of the way.

Additionally, more and more people with different life-limiting conditions have come to seek hospice as it expands its range of services. 

In its starting days, it only catered to patients diagnosed with terminal cancer. But now, the benefits of hospice care can reach people with many kinds of life-limiting disorders一from autoimmune conditions to neurological diseases, your loved one’s doctor can help navigate the referral. Anyone can refer a patient to hospice but it is important to have the permission and agreement of the patient, these are highly emotional and uncertain times that deserve the best care and consideration. 

What Are Some of the Most Common Hospice Diagnosis?

Hospice care is a medical service that promotes compassionate care, support, and comfort to patients with terminal diagnoses. Patients are eligible for hospice or nursing home care when they have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness that has a prognosis of six months or less, however, many patients live beyond this period. In fact, evaluations are conducted routinely after a patient begins hospice services to determine if they are eligible to continue receiving hospice care.

However, a doctor can also refer a patient to hospice care when the patient chooses to forgo treatment and focus on improving their quality of life. As a result, Cardinal Hospice starts with assessing the patient’s and their family’s needs to develop a care plan, aligning their care objectives with the doctors and level of care needed. Every circumstance is uniquely deserving of this very tailored attention.

Following, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, are the top five principal hospice diagnosis:

Cancer (29.6% or 336,307 hospice patients)

Cancer refers to a disease wherein the body’s cells begin to multiply uncontrollably. These abnormal cells can then affect the body’s normal function or form a mass called a tumor. 

 Hospice Decedents NHPCO

These abnormal cell behaviors can happen in the different parts of the body, affecting various organs and systems apart from the origin of the disease. 

Due to the extensive diversity of cancer, patients with this diagnosis dominate the majority of individuals receiving hospice services. Despite being at the top since 1948, there is a beacon of hope with reported numbers exhibiting a decline in cancer related deaths since 2014 (36.6%) and 2017 (30.1%). 

Cardinal Hospice believes that with early admission into a care plan, cancer patients will be surrounded with a support team during their fight with the disease. Studies show that patients who receive care suffer less depression and have a better quality of life. We believe we can help.  

Heart Disease (17.4% or 196,971 hospice patients)

Next on the most common hospice diagnosis list is cardiovascular or heart disease. This refers to a group of individual conditions that eventually cause problems to the cardiovascular system. Some examples of the conditions that affect the heart include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Arrhythmia
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Heart damage from past attacks

For the past years, the number of patients with heart failure in need of hospice care has been steadily increasing. From 2013’s 13.4% to a spike up to 17.6% during 2017. However, the latest report did show the increase in numbers slowing down during the latest survey made in 2018, which is 17.4%

Heart disease is still a leading killer of men and women in the United States. However, there’s plenty of reason to be hopeful since medical innovations and lifestyle changes are proving to allow most heart patients to recover and live functional lives.  In the unfortunate circumstance that a patient is informed that their prognosis is terminal, that is where hospice support will come in to support your family. 

Dementia (15.6% or 177,490 hospice patients)

Dementia is a neurological condition that affects an individual’s mental and cognitive function. It is a progressive disease, which means it’s only a matter of time before the illness severely affects a patient’s ability to think, communicate, and live independently.  The stress of caring for a dementia patient can negatively impact the family’s quality of life as the progression of the disease changes at unpredictable rates.  

Early admission to hospice care will allow your family to navigate this difficult season in life and put their attention and energy into what is most important. Final stages of this disease will bring its own challenges. Our specially trained caregivers at Cardinal Hospice in home or in a facility as your loved one may wish. A patient with end-stage dementia requires extensive attention, assistance, comfort, and overall support that only a hospice program can provide.

Respiratory Diseases (11% or 124,407 hospice patients)

The fourth most common diagnosis seen in hospice patients is respiratory disease. It has been on the fourth spot since 2014, but patients did rise in number after four years from 9.3% to 11% at the most recent study.

Chronic respiratory illnesses are different conditions that affect the lungs and other structures of the respiratory system. These are a group of incurable disorders that can negatively impact one’s respiration and quality of life. Some of the most prominent conditions under respiratory diseases are:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or COPD
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic pulmonary fibrosis

However, surveys suggest that patients with stage 4 COPD are more likely to seek hospice care due to the increased need of support in daily function as well as the complexity of oxygen care. 

Stroke (9.5% or 107,439 hospice patients)

Stroke refers to a condition in which the blood vessel (artery) that supplies oxygen to the brain ruptures or gets blocked. Without ample oxygen supply, the brain cells and tissue will die in minutes, causing permanent damage.

According to studies, having a stroke can take years off one’s life, shortening the average life expectancy. Furthermore, this condition causes body paralysis, speech problems, and mobility issues. As a result, many stroke patients require 24-hour support and assistance, as well as enriching activities to improve their quality of life.

So, it’s no surprise that stroke occupies the fifth most common diagnosis seen in patients receiving hospice care. It has been in this spot since 2014, wherein the number of stroke hospice patients are only at 6.4%

Who Can Enter A Hospice Program?

Cancer, heart disease, dementia, lung disease, and stroke are five common diagnoses seen in hospice patients. However, that does not mean that hospice programs are exclusive only to patients with those conditions. 

A doctor, loved one, or counselor can refer an individual to hospice care if they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness that reduces their life expectancy to six months or less. Some of the other specific situations or conditions that may prompt hospice care are:

  • When a patient has repeated or frequent hospitalization in the last six months
  • When the patient has a compromised ability to perform their daily living activities (e.g., eating, bathing, toileting)
  • When a patient has declining cognitive and mental abilities
  • When an individual exhibits drastic weight and nutritional loss due to their illness
  • When a patient experiences a worsening condition despite curative treatments or chooses to end curative treatments to move to comfort care and quality of life

If you or someone you know currently suffers from such conditions, then it’s time to consider hospice care as part of your end-of-life care plan.

Where to Seek Hospice Care in the Michigan Area?

Seeking hospice care for yourself or a loved one will be challenging and emotional. But at Cardinal Hospice, we are prepared to help you every step of the way and surround your family with the care and support you deserve.

Cardinal Hospice is one of the best hospice and palliative care providers in central and southeast, Michigan. We believe in the power of compassionate care and how it can benefit the overall well-being of our patients and their loved ones.

When your loved one receives a terminal diagnosis, let us help you provide the best possible care and support that your loved one needs. You can count on us.

Get in touch with us by clicking this patient referral form so we can contact you and start planning the best care for you and your loved one!