Who is Eligible for Hospice?

If a doctor has certified the patient’s prognosis as not longer than six months, the patient is eligible for hospice. This applies to anyone of any age, with any type of illness. As with cancer patients, people with ALS, kidney disease, and Alzheimer's disease, for example, can also benefit greatly from hospice care. Alzheimer's disease, in particular, is often overlooked for hospice referral because of its slow progression. People with Alzheimer's are usually referred to hospice when they are in the final stages of the illness.

If the patient is not mentally competent or is physically unable to communicate, the decision may be made by a healthcare proxy.  If an advance directive has been filled out, the family generally knows who has been designated the healthcare proxy. In the absence of a healthcare proxy, caregivers and medical advisers should take guidance from a living will, if one exists.