One of the most common questions we receive is, “How long can somebody be on hospice care?”  To effectively answer this question, it’s vital to understand what this type of care is.  So, I will briefly describe the history and function of hospice care and then dive into how long it can last.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care has been in practice since the end of the 19th century.  It began in Ireland and England as a place or building where physicians cared for patients with terminal illnesses. Then, in the 1960s, an English doctor, Cicely Saunders, developed our modern concept of the service. Unfortunately, in the United States, most insurances didn’t cover this service until the 1980s, so it operated strictly on a volunteer basis. However, once Medicare picked it up, hospice spread across the United States.  Today, we have thousands of agencies providing this service.  You can see all of the benefits covered by Medicare on their website.

Hospice care is also known as end-of-life care.  When a patient receives a terminal diagnosis and chooses to undergo this treatment, a provider steps in.  That provider focuses on providing comfort, reducing pain, and preserving the dignity of the patient.  Unfortunately, many people believe that choosing to go on this service is choosing to give up.  This belief is inaccurate.  The end of a person’s life is a natural part of their journey.  Instead of facing this part of life in pain and putting strain on oneself and one’s family, hospice provides the ability to meet this part of life in comfort, peace, dignity, and all of one’s basic needs attended to by a professional.

If you’d like more information on hospice, you can read this blog.

How Long Can A Person Stay On Hospice?

Usually, to qualify for hospice care, a patient must have a life expectancy of six months or less with an incurable illness.  That said, there’s no set-in-stone method of knowing for sure how long services will last.  While most patients pass away within the 6-month timeframe, there have been cases where patients have lived longer, although these cases are rare.  If a patient’s care lasts longer than six months, the provider will usually communicate with the patient and their physician to determine the best course of action.

Hospice can be a confusing service, and that’s why we have patient care representatives.  If you have more questions about it, please give us a call today!

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