Hospice Care and Support Services for Patients Suffering from Lou Gehrigs Disease (ALS)

hospice care for ALS patients san diego ca

ALS is one of several chronic degenerative conditions. Other such conditions include Parkinson’s, Muscular Dystrophy, Myasthenia Gravis or Multiple Sclerosis.

Hospice is a medical service based on a holistic approach to providing quality end-of-life care to patients. Aria Hospice has an inter-professional team-focus led by a physician medical director. Aria Hospice physicians manage and monitor care during the length of service and have extensive experience in the hospice/palliative modality of care.

Research has shown that hospice does improve the quality of life in patients, and that patients in hospice care live comfortably up to 2.5 months longer, on average, compared to patients that opt not to be under hospice care.

Thinking about and trying to make decisions about end-of-life care can be difficult for families and patients with any type of neurological disease, such as ALS. We at Aria Hospice can  help you and your loved ones navigate important questions in determining  when the time is right to have a greater understanding about hospice care for a patient with ALS disease.

Hospice Care for Advanced ALS Patients

Under Medicare regulations, in order to admit a patient under our care, the patient has shown a decline in clinical status. These changes in clinical variables apply to patients whose decline is not considered to be reversible. They are examples of findings that generally connote a poor prognosis. However, some are clearly more predictive of a poor prognosis than others; significant ongoing weight loss is a strong predictor, while decreased functional status is less so.

The following are examples of clinical decline that will indicate the patient with ALS can be considered for hospice care:

  • Recurrent or intractable serious infections such as pneumonia, sepsis or pyelonephritis;
  • Weight loss of at least 10% body weight in the prior six months, not due to reversible causes such as depression or use of diuretics;
  • Decreasing anthropomorphic measurements (mid-arm circumference, abdominal girth), not due to reversible causes such as depression or use of diuretics;
  • Observation of ill-fitting clothes, decrease in skin turgor, increasing skin folds or other observation of weight loss in a patient without documented weight;
  • Difficulty swallowing leading to recurrent aspiration and/or inadequate oral intake documented by decreasing food portion consumption.

A patient with ALS often needs assistance to walk, stand, and move. People in this stage experience severe and debilitating symptoms. Motor symptoms, such as rigidity and bradykinesia (slowness of movement), are visible and difficult to overcome. Most people in this stage aren’t able to live alone. They need the assistance of a 24-hour caregiver and hospice care, as patients are unable to perform normal tasks. The patient no longer has the ability to move freely – they are either wheelchair or bed ridden, speech has become extremely difficult or barely intelligible and the patient does not want to be dependent on feeding tubes for nutrition and hydration.

When is it time to discuss hospice care for a patient with ALS?

An Aria Hospice Medical Director is always available to review the patient’s clinical history in coordination with the patient’s primary care physician. Final determination on a decision based on the patient’s clinical history rests on the MD in coordination with the patient or patient’s decision maker.

If your loved one has these symptoms, you may want to contact Aria Hospice as they may be a sign that the ALS has progressed and that he/she would benefit from the services offered by Aria Hospice:

  • Patient no longer has the ability to move freely – they are either wheelchair or bed ridden.
  • Speech has become extremely difficult or barely intelligible.
  • Patient does not want to be dependent on feeding tubes for nutrition and hydration.
  • The patient does not want to be placed on a ventilator for breathing or wishes to discontinue medical support.
  • The patient is requiring oxygen at rest as a result of <30% in a vital capacity breathing test.
  • The patient is now wheelchair or bed-bound
  • The patient has normal to barely intelligible speech
  • Needing major assistance in activities of daily living, or ADL’s
  • The patient has continued weight loss, dehydration, and difficulty with eating or drinking

Benefits of Aria Hospice Care for ALS Patients

Pain Management Patients with ALS often experience pain caused by the progression of the disease in the form of muscle weakness, immobility, joint stenosis and muscle spasms. Our  Aria Hospice Team provides comfort care which focuses on relieving pain and maintaining comfort.

Symptom Control – Aria Hospice Care Team regularly assesses each patient’s condition and works with the physician to determine the most effective treatment and medication options to maximize symptom control for symptoms which may include: difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, problems eating and drinking, difficulty communicating, pressure ulcers, dementia, anxiety and depression.

Hospice Care at Home –  The goal of hospice care is to support patients by meeting their needs and managing their care at home – wherever they may call home, using a holistic approach that includes hospice massages and emotional and spiritual approaches.

Coordinated Care Approach – Hospice care is a team effort. The patient’s family and loved ones are actively involved along with a team of professionals and volunteers. With the help and support of the hospice care team, the patient and their family can attain physical, emotional, and spiritual preparedness for the end of life.

The Aria Hospice Team continuously evaluates the patient’s medical status and revises the care plan as the patient’s condition and symptoms change. The goal of hospice care is to treat pain and other symptoms and relieve the physical and emotional stress to ensure the greatest level of comfort for our patients and their families.

Holistic Approach – Emotional and Spiritual Support – Therapy and counseling services add an additional level of care to the hospice services provided by Aria Hospice. Therapy and counseling are non-invasive, holistic practices which enhance the medical, social and spiritual care of the hospice team. These practices promote comfort and wholeness for both patients and their families. Therapy and counseling sessions are provided by staff and volunteers of Aria Hospice team.

We Listen. We Care. We Serve.

When you are faced with the challenge of finding a hospice provider to help care for the emotional and physical well being of someone you love, maybe your mom or dad, you will be faced with many questions.

Making the decision about hospice care for a loved one is never easy, but finding the right answers can help you feel more comfortable with the options available and confident in your final decision.

Aria Hospice operates hospice care programs throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties in Southern California. We pride ourselves on being one of the areas leading providers of end-of-life care.


Our Hospice Care Specialists are Here to Help

Call Us Today for Answers to End-of-Life Questions.


Anyone diagnosed with a limited life expectancy can receive Aria Hospice care.

Once a physician certifies that an illness is terminal, (a life expectancy of six months or less), they will collaborate with the Aria Hospice team for services, tailored to the needs and wishes of the patient.

Many patients have cancer, but Aria Hospice cares for individuals with many other life-limiting illness, including heart and lung disease, kidney disease, neurological disorders, stroke, Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Family and friends also receive the benefit of hospice care, to help them support the patient and adapt to changes in their lives.

Many people mistakenly believe that all hospice patients are bed-bound, critically ill, and unable to continue living life to the fullest. Hospice celebrates life and supports you in achieving your individual needs in this chapter of your life.

Contact our Admission Coordinator at Aria Hospice in San Diego County or Imperial County with any questions you may have about hospice care or eligibility.

who can receive hospice care


After receiving a diagnosis for limited life expectancy, patients must make an important choice about goals for their treatment.

why choose aria hospice care

When a physician determines that there is no curative treatment for a particular illness, the treatment is not helping any longer or you decide that the side effects of treatment are too great, you may consider choosing comfort care as your ultimate goal.

Aggressive medical treatment focuses on curing the physical illness rather than satisfying the patient’s emotional and spiritual needs. It often requires intensive care in a clinical setting that can diminish quality of life. Hospice care has the focus of comfort, by relieving pain and other symptoms, while continuing to address emotional and spiritual needs of both the patient and family.

Hospice care neither prolongs life nor hastens death, but relieves pain and physical discomfort so that the patient can experience a more peaceful and satisfying quality of life. At Aria Hospice, care is designed to primarily take place in the home or place of residence. Many families tell us that they waited too long to take full advantage of all the benefits offered by hospice care.


Our Team is Here to Help!

We are one of Southern California’s premier providers of end-of-life care. Click the button below to Request Information or call (619) 795-6010 to learn how hospice care can help.