Why Choose Hospice Sooner?
Improving Quality of Life
“I wish we had chosen hospice sooner,” is one of the most common statements hospice providers hear from families. Many wait because they know hospice is for patients who have opted not to pursue curative treatment, and some families feel that foregoing treatment, even when it’s not having the desired effect, is “giving up” on their loved one. Others believe that hospice will hasten death, or that it’s a place where no one will take care of their loved one.
The truth is that the end of life isn’t just the last few hours or days; the end of life can be six months—or more. By utilizing hospice services earlier, seriously ill patients have the chance to improve the quality of their life as they near the end of life. Additionally, studies have shown that those on hospice can live up to 29 days longer than those not receiving hospice care.¹
For seriously ill patients who are eligible for Medicare, the hospice benefit covers 100 percent of hospice services for those with a life expectancy of up to six months. Yet the median length of hospice care in the United States is just 17.4 days.² More than 35 percent of hospice patients die within a week of being admitted to hospice.³ The Medicare hospice benefit covers all hospice services as well as prescription and over-the-counter drugs and medical supplies and equipment. And those services include not only a medical team that makes house calls, but a social worker, chaplain and bereavement specialist to help with the unique issues that arise in the last six months of life. The hospice team addresses questions, concerns and care of both the patient and their loved ones. The best hospice team can make little difference in the last week of life; but, given the time, there is so much more hospice can do.
Benefits of Starting Hospice Early
Being cared for in the comfort of home, surrounded by the people and things that mean the most, is just one of the many benefits of having hospice sooner rather than later.
Benefits to the patient:
- Pain and symptoms managed so the patient feels like himself again
- More time and resources to deal with unresolved issues, final wishes and saying goodbye
- No more ambulance rides to the ED or hospital admissions; hospice keeps patients comfortably at home
- The time and ability to enjoy the little things in life: the view out the window, a snowfall, a visitor, a favorite food.
Benefits to the family caregiver:
- One-on-one support for months, not days
- Education on how best to care for the patient near the end of life
- The opportunity for respite breaks
- Bereavement support when anticipating a loved one’s life coming to an end