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How long does Hospice last?

Hospice is a way of providing end of life care to people suffering from a terminal illness. It focuses on providing the best possible quality of life for those with less than six months to live. Hospice care to a patient can be provided in any setting, such as homes or hospitals. 

One query that is common with every patient’s family is how long are they going to live? There is no definite reply to that because every individual suffers differently. For how long hospice care is going to be with someone, the time period for that varies based upon the age and condition of the patient.

How long Hospice Care is going to last?

Before we go into the details of hospice care and how long does hospice last, let us first look at some of the misconceptions people have about hospice care. 

Many people get an idea from hospice care that it will take their loved ones away from them a lot faster. When in actuality, hospice care is working to provide the best end of life days to an ailing person. Also, if patients feel better by themselves after some period of hospice care, they can stop taking it and then come back to it whenever they want.

People also think that hospice care is only for people living their last few days. But in reality, hospice care lasts for months and every individual has a different hospice care plan laid out by their medical director. So, hospice care can really let a terminally ill one enjoy the last days of his/her life.

So back to that question again: how long does hospice care last? That completely depends on the patient taking hospice care services and his/her health conditions. But generally, they have 6 months of time for hospice care services. It is important to understand the difference between hospice care vs palliative care.

Which patients can qualify for Hospice care?

Patients who fall under the category listed by Medicare for the eligibility of a person to receive hospice services are all qualified for it. For example, if a woman was told she had ovarian cancer with a five year projected life expectancy, she would typically be admitted to hospice care within her sixth month of diagnosis.

For that, Medicare or private insurance agencies want physicians to declare that it is hard for someone to be able to make it for more than six months.

However, some people ought to live more than six months of time span and some leave their loved ones unexpectedly. So there is no science backing it up, it is mere reasoning of the physician after checking the patient’s condition. Some patient receive hospice care at home. But before that, they have some important questions like What services does hospice provide at home?

How long does Hospice care usually last?

Let us take a better peek at how long hospice care is provided. So, what most people do is, they do not go for hospice care until the last days of their lives start coming near. In the journal of Palliative Medicine, it was said that almost 35.7 percent of people who were enrolled died within one week of care, while half of them died within three weeks.

According to the trends and studies of previous years, only 12 to15 percent of patients get to survive for six months. The rest will leave their loved ones unexpectedly because of seeking hospice care late than they should.

Anyhow, it is not easy to predict how many days are left for someone because everyone has a different condition. But for people with an age less than 65, it is more likely that they will survive for six months.  

Gender is another factor to consider here as well. Women are slightly less likely to die within the determined six months of time than men. It is 85.1 versus 88.4 percent. Also, some illnesses are different than others. For instance, people with stroke tending or dementia will have a very less mortality rate than others suffering from different illnesses.

Typically, the length of time a patient is in hospice care varies between one and two months. When the hospice patient is admitted to care, he or she will receive different treatments based upon his or her needs. Some patients may need physical, occupational, or speech therapy. Others may only need companionship and emotional support.  

However, this can vary based upon the patient's age, condition, and type of diagnosis. Long-term hospice patients are rare; however, there are cases where someone has been cared for through hospice for several years.

What to expect in the last days of Hospice care how long before death will it last?

The hospice patients, when going through the last days of their lives, they come across different physical, emotional, and spiritual changes. In order to have a better idea here are a few signs that indicate that the time of parting is near,

  • Sleeping more than usual 
  • Incontinence 
  • Breathing changes
  • Skin feeling cool to touch sometimes 

But there is nothing to worry about because all the essential and crucial care at that time is provided by a team that specifically works with people in hospice. It stays through all the thicks and thins a patient has to face during his illness.

Do Patients ever get discharged from Hospice care?

Yes, it is surprising to know that people do get discharged out of hospice care. That is probably when a person was first thought to have only 6 months to live but then his/her life expectancy changed to more than 6 months. 

In that case, the person taking the hospice care services will not be eligible anymore for hospice care. He can get it again later on but for that particular time, he is not eligible.

Here are some reasons directed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization for hospice discharge,

  • If the patient doesn't want to continue hospice care anymore.
  • When hospice care cannot work normally because of some abusive, disruptive, or unaccommodating behavior of the patient that it stops the effectiveness of it completely.
  • The patient’s condition gets better and the illness is no longer terminal.
  • If the patient moves to some other place or changes hospice care facility.

A patient can always opt out of the hospice care services if he is not willing to continue them anymore. So, if you or any of your loved ones decide to step out of hospice care, it is better for you to plan for any upcoming health emergency that might arise.

Moreover, if your loved one’s condition worsens at any point, then it is never too late to seek a hospice care service again. Keep this in mind that if a person steps out of hospice care then he/she will be putting an end to all the medical assistance, Medicare benefits, and the therapies he/she was getting when being in hospice care.

Anyhow, at the end of the day, hospice care is there to help people make the most of their last few days of life. This includes giving every kind of care, warmth, and a sense of comfort. So if your loved one suffers from an ailing condition, it is time to make his/her body at peace and make life better. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can someone be on hospice for years?

One can only get hospice facilities if he has about six months to live. However, there are some insurance companies and Medicaid that cover hospice care services for a whole year. But usually, people never get to receive the full six months of services. 

A reason for that is because they are bad at making timely decisions and they go by the misconception that seeking a hospice service means seeking a demise. When in actual, hospice is only there to help people have a good end of life care.  

How long do most hospice patients live?  

There are only 12 to 15 percent of people who actually get to receive six months of hospice services. 50 percent of the rest leave only after three weeks of being in a hospice facility while patients younger than 65 years are very likely to make it to the six months of time. 

Also, people who go directly into hospice facilities after spending a long term being admitted in the hospital will most probably pass within six months of time.

Does hospice mean death?

The patients who undergo hospice care are expected to die within a period of six months. But that doesn’t mean that hospice focuses on death. It focuses on giving relief to a patient's mind and body by giving good end of life care.

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