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Common Diagnoses Among Hospice Patients

Common Diagnoses Among Hospice Patients

March 01, 2022

When hospice first became a Medicare benefit, patients with terminal cancer were the most common and often the only patients receiving it. Today, hospice care is offered to patients with many different life-limiting diagnoses because it is proven to ease symptoms and improve quality of life. People with a terminal illness or life-limiting injury and six months or less life expectancy are eligible for the Medicare hospice benefit.

Some of the most common diagnoses for those receiving hospice care in the United States include:


Cancer is still the most common diagnosis among hospice patients. Thankfully, advancements in cancer care have greatly improved outcomes for patients with the disease. However, patients with advanced-stage terminal cancer can benefit from the symptom relief hospice care provides.


People with dementia account for around 15% of hospice patients. Once dementia begins to interfere with social ability, communication and daily function, hospice may benefit the patient by helping administer care that improves quality of life and allows them to focus on maximizing the time they have left.

Respiratory Diseases

Nearly 10% of hospice patients have some form of a respiratory illness, such as lung disease, cystic fibrosis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Those with respiratory conditions that seriously affect their quality of life and daily functions can benefit greatly from hospice care.

Heart Disease

Patients with heart disease, including congestive heart failure, can benefit from the emotional and physical support of hospice. Often, heart disease is unpredictable and decline can be rapid. When heart disease progresses to a terminal stage, many patients benefit from the symptom relief and emotional support provided by hospice. Hospice care can treat a wide range of symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, hypertension and more.


After experiencing a stroke, some people find their health continues to decline. The assistance hospice care provides is focused on relieving symptoms caused by the stroke and making daily life easier to manage so the patient can focus on what is important to them.

These are just some of the most common diagnoses among hospice patients. However, hospice is not limited to people with only these diseases. Hospice is a type of care that can be provided in the home or care facility for patients who choose to forgo ongoing curative treatment and focus on comfort care. Learn more about Charter Healthcare’s hospice services.