Navigation Links
Hospice: An Overlooked Option
Date:12/17/2007

The vast majority of Americans forgo valuable end-of-life care

SUNDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Hospice care helps terminally ill patients prepare for death, treating their symptoms and pain and preparing them -- and their families -- for the end.

The patients maintain their dignity and some semblance of control over their life. Their families receive counseling to help them come to terms with their impending loss.

It's humane. It's caring. It's thoughtful.

Why, then, do so few Americans chose to receive hospice care, even though Medicare covers the expense?

A study published in July in the New England Journal of Medicine found that only one-third of Americans die under the care of hospice, despite hospice being essentially free of charge.

And those who avail themselves of hospice care often aren't getting the full benefit of it, said Dr. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the world's oldest and largest nonprofit membership organization devoted exclusively to promoting access to hospices.

"They hold off the ultimate [decision] until they finally have to face it," Schumacher said. "And when we speak to families, the question we hear over and over again, is, 'Why didn't we come into hospice sooner?' "

There currently are more than 3,500 hospices in the United States, and more are being built every year, Schumacher said. "Approximately 500 new hospice licenses were issued over the past two years," he said.

Hospice care is end-of-life care provided by health professionals and volunteers.

The hospice plan provides medical, psychological and spiritual support, the goal of which is to help people who are dying experience peace, comfort and dignity. Caregivers control pain and other symptoms as much as possible, so a person can remain as alert and comfortable as possible.

But hospice also focuses on the family members as well, helping them deal with the reality of death, said Carol Spence, director of research for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

"We outright make the patient's family our unit of care, so there's a lot of attention given to the family caregivers, including bereavement care following the death of the patient," she said.

Usually, patients are given hospice care when they are expected to live six months or less. Hospice care can take place at their home or in a hospice center. Seeing the value of the care, hospitals and nursing facilities also are opening hospice units to help the dying.

Part of the difficulty in choosing to use a hospice can be how hard it is to really know how much time a person has left, Spence said.

"It's difficult in general to come up with an accurate picture of disease projections," Spence said. "People are living with chronic illnesses that will have an inevitable downward course, but knowing precisely when death will approach is not an easy thing.

"Bringing hospice in doesn't mean they're going to die tomorrow. It means a better quality of life for whatever amount of time you have left, whether it's a week or a month or six months," she continued.

Another possible reason for people failing to use hospice can be found in American attitudes toward dying -- going to hospice can seem the equivalent of "failing" or "giving up," she said.

"Our American culture is death-averse," Spence said. "The medical community and the general population, the attitude is shown in the metaphors used, whatever the disease you have -- 'I'm going to fight it, I'm going to beat it.' "

There's also some misunderstanding over who can utilize hospice care, with many people believing it's mainly for those dying of cancer. In fact, about 40 percent of U.S. hospice admissions are for patients suffering from some other life-ending disease, such as end-stage heart disease, dementia, lung disease or stroke, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

The misunderstandings also involve the cost of care. Many people believe hospice is too expensive or out of their price range, even though Medicare or private insurance covers the full cost of hospice care.

Despite all this, the number of hospices and the number of people turning to them are expected to grow as baby boomers enter retirement age and begin facing their own mortality, said Schumacher, a member of that generation himself.

"We're as much a part of this death-denying culture as anyone, but we are consumers, and we look for alternatives," he said. "I think in the long run, we will be a group who will choose this option much sooner."

More information

To learn more, visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.



SOURCES: Donald Schumacher, Psy.D., former chief executive officer of Hospice Buffalo, and current president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Alexandria, Va.; Carol Spence, director of research, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization


'/>"/>
Copyright©2007 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Overlooked Mutation Can Spur HIV Drug Resistance
2. How Best to Treat Preschoolers With ADHD? The Harvard Mental Health Letter Discusses the Options
3. Burgeoning Population of Hepatitis C Virus Patients in Need of Second- and Third-Line Treatment Options
4. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Hosts Workshop On Weighing Treatment Options For Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
5. RAND researchers offer options to improve immigrant health care quality, access
6. Cincinnati Adoption Agency Invited to Participate in Values Voter Presidential Debate
7. Northstar Healthcare Announces Option to Purchase a 60% Interest in The Palladium for Surgery - Dallas
8. Small Bone Innovations Introduces the Artelon(R) STT Spacer to Increase Treatment Options for Thumb Arthritis
9. Medco Unveils Three New Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Options for 2008 to Provide Seniors More Choice, Better Value and Specialist Pharmacists
10. Colonoscopy Remains the Most Effective Screening Option for Colon Cancer
11. Virtual Colonoscopy an Effective Option: Study
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... "With 30 hand-drawn hand gesture animations, FCPX users can easily customize each ... Film Studios. , ProHand Cartoon’s package transforms over 1,300 hand-drawn pictures into hand ... select a ProHand generator and drag it above media or text in the Final ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, Secretary ... Work award to iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health promotion. ... Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. iHire ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, ... the dangers associated with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity ... who are suffering with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Dr. Amanda ... orthodontic treatment. Dr. Cheng has extensive experience with all areas of orthodontics, including ... accelerated osteogenic orthodontics. , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary adjunct to orthodontic treatment. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Norcross, Georgia (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 ... ... Year” awards today at the Clinical Decision Making in Emergency Medicine conference in ... who have authored journal articles published in Emergency Medicine Practice and ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; ... for its Elecsys BRAHMS PCT (procalcitonin) assay as a ... septic shock. With this clearance, Roche is the first ... integrated solution for sepsis risk assessment and management. ... infection and PCT levels in blood can aid clinicians ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Research and Markets has ... 52" report to their offering. ... creates a favourable commercial environment for MedImmune to enter. The ... that will serve to drive considerable growth for effective anti-influenza ... to cap sales considerably, but development is still in its ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... INDIANAPOLIS , June 23, 2016 If ... Leaders Scholarship is any indication, the future is in ... at www.diabetesscholars.org by the Diabetes Scholars Foundation ... the way of academic and community service excellence. ... since 2012, and continues to advocate for people with ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: