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National Hospice Month - a Chance to Learn

Posted Nov 08 2010 6:00am
Someone sent me the presidential proclamation for National Hospice Month. In part it reads:

We recognize the dignity hospice care can provide to patients who need it most, and the professionals, volunteers, and family members who bring peace to individuals in their final days. Hospice care gives medical services, emotional support, and spiritual resources to people facing life-limiting illnesses. It can also help families and caregivers manage the details and emotional challenges of caring for a dying loved one....All Americans should take comfort in the important work of hospice care, which enables individuals to carry on their lives, in spite of a terminal illness. During this month, let us recognize those who allow the terminally ill to receive comfortable and dignified care.

I was taken by the one line "enables individuals to carry on their lives." And that is so true. Hospice has had to a degree the same reputation as nursing homes, the place you go to die.
Yet, the truth is hospice is a place of life. 
In the 2010 National Hospice and Palliative Care Hospice Care in America publication, it illustrates that. Two studies were cited.
In a 2007 study, patients who chose hospice care lived an average of one month longer than similar patients who did not choose hospice care. Longer lengths of survival were found in four of the six disease categories studied. The largest difference in survival between the hospice and non-hospice cohorts was observed in congestive heart failure patients where the mean survival period jumped from 321 days to 402 days. 
In a 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, lung cancer patients receiving early palliative care lived 23.3% longer than those who delayed palliative treatment. Median survival for earlier palliative care patients was 2 .7 months longer than those receiving standard care . The study authors hypothesized that “with earlier referral to a hospice program, patients may receive care that results in better management of symptoms, leading to stabilization of their condition and prolonged survival.
The bottom line - people have a dignified quality of life at the end of life because of hospice care. Learn more about hospice care so you can make educated decisions about care for a loved one.
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