It has happened again. Another celebrity, this time country singer Ray Price, has left a hospital to go home to spend his last few days at home with hospice care. Mr. Price passed away Monday (December 16, 2013). We offer our sympathies to his family and his many fans.
Media reporting on his end-of-life situation reinforces the belief held by many that hospice care is only for those last few days of life. This is not the first time this has occurred. Media reports often tell us that a famous person has begun hospice care and then, a day or two later, comes the report of the person’s death.
It is important to know that hospice care is available to patients with a life expectancy of six months or less. That means that many patients who are not on death’s doorstep are eligible for hospice care. And, while “six months of less” is the stated benchmark, that is an indefinite determination. Because even the best medical minds cannot pinpoint the exact day or month when a patient will die.
In some cases, patients stay on hospice care for more than six months. With certain medical conditions, a typical patient may live beyond six months of care but still be in a state that qualifies her or him for the “six months or less” diagnosis.
In Mr. Price’s case, while reports say he suffered from pancreatic cancer, we cannot know all the details of his illness that have led to his passing, nor his and his family’s desires regarding the end of his life.
For many Hope Hospice patients and their families, having weeks or months at home before death occurs is a blessing. The period allows the patient an opportunity to receive the full scope of hospice care.
If you have a loved one who may be approaching the end of his or her life, please call us at 314-984-9800 to talk to one of our community liaisons about hospice care and the many services we provide. Remember, too, that we deliver our services to patients with compassion and love.