Recent reports show more people 65-years and older are dying at home, and not in hospitals. Because of that hospice services have increased.
Hospice provides medical, emotional, and spiritual resources to improve the quality of life while dying. The goal is to ease pain and provide comfort. Usually care happens in a patient's home, but sometimes in-patient hospice care is needed.
Doctors looked at recent records of Medicare patients who died in recent years, and found that in many cases hospice is being called too late.
"More patients are dying at home, but their pathway to dying at home is with more repeat hospitalizations, more ICU care, and more late transitions in the last three days of life," explains Joan M. Teno, M.D. from Brown University Medical School.
She adds, "Often those transitions were to hospice, were moving many patients in the last day of life, from one health care setting to another. Such transitions can be conceived as burdensome to the dying patient, and burdensome to their family."
The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that by waiting until the final days to call hospice, families create more stress. Therefore, hospice is best called when there's no cure, and it's time to start letting go.