Tag Archives: dementia

Hospice Facts and Figures


The latest report from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPNO) offers important and meaningful statistics regarding hospice care in the United States. The most recent year for which full stats were available is 2013.

The average time that a patient was on hospice in 2013 is 72.6 days.

Among hospice patients in 2013, 34.5% were on hospice 7 days or less before death occurred. 14.3% were on hospice for 8-14 days. Another 12.7% were on hospice for 15-29 days. This means 61.5% received care for less than a month. (We presume that many of that 61.5% might have qualified for hospice sooner and received a more complete assortment of hospice services.)

66.6% of hospice patients were at home in 2013 when they passed away. That number is composed of 41.7% who were in private residences. 24.9% were in nursing homes or other residential facilities.

Approximately 84% of hospice patients in 2013 were age 65 or older. 41.2% were 85 or older.

Of those admitted to hospice in 2013, 36.5% had a cancer diagnosis. The majority, 63.5%, had non-cancer diagnoses. Those included dementia (15.2%), heart disease (13.4) and lung disease (9.9%).

Family evaluations of hospice care after their family member’s death included this positive result: 73.5% of those surveyed rated their family member’s care “excellent.”

According to NHCPO estimates, the number of hospice volunteers serving patients topped 355,000 during 2013. They provided approximately 16 million hours of volunteer service.

The Medicare hospice benefit covered 87.7% of hospice patients in the U.S. during 2013. Medicaid, managed care and private insurance covered 10.0%.

These cold, hard stats are useful but they cannot describe the warmth and compassion that most hospice employees and volunteers have for their patients and families. The numbers are impressive, but it is important to remember that, ultimately, hospice care is about quality rather than quantity.

For information about hospice care in metro St. Louis, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.


Hospice Care From The Family Point of View

Hospice patients are generally aware of their ultimate fate. Those with dementia may have limited awareness, but even they can have periods of lucidity and understanding. Patients tend to come to terms with their approaching end of life. If hospice care is administered properly, the patient is comfortable and at peace.

Family members, however, may be another story. They are the ones who will be the survivors. While the patient will be leaving this world, the family members will be left behind to deal with a whole new set of circumstances. Those of us who have lost a key family member know what a big hole in our lives their departure can leave.

In addition to the sadness that accompanies a loved one’s passing, there may be family disagreements about the funeral, burial/cremation and distribution of belongings. Lingering resentments that date back for decades may suddenly reemerge.

A family member may hold out unreasonable hope of a miracle recovery after medical personnel have agreed that the patient’s demise is near. Another may be all but invisible during this period because he/she can’t handle death. Another may swoop in from out of town and decide that he or she should handle all the family matters. There may be concerns about legal issues, such as who is to be granted power of attorney, if necessary.

In families, large and small, these issues arise. Hope Hospice personnel cannot control nor resolve disagreements. We can offer our input, as we have walked this road many times. We do recommend that certain family discussions be held away from the patient. The stress of family arguments can be harmful and upsetting for the patient.

Hope Hospice offers counseling to families as well as to patients. Stress, depression, anxiety and pre-death grief are common among family members. In many cases, we attend to families and their grief well beyond the patient’s death.

Hope Hospice personnel value all family members and consider family members and other caregivers to be important partners in the work we do. Family members provide significant input that helps us do our job. While we work to make end of life comfortable for patients, we also work to make continuation of life better for family members.














Correcting Misconceptions About Hospice

If you Google the search term “misconceptions about hospices,” you’ll get 2,750,000 results. Here are just three of the big misconceptions about hospice care in the U.S.

#1. A hospice is a place. In America, most hospice care occurs in private residences. Most patients prefer to face end-of-life in the comfort of their own homes. Hospice personnel visit the patient in his or her home. Yes, there are some hospices that house patients, but most do not.

#2. Hospice is only for patients with cancer. While many hospice patients do have cancer, hospice care is available for all who have a diagnosis that indicates a life expectancy of six months or less. Hospice patients include those with congestive heart failure, emphysema, dementia and AIDS.

#3. Entering hospice care means that a patient is giving up. Wrong. Hospice care works to make the remaining weeks and months of life comfortable. Hospice care helps manage symptoms such as aches and pains, nausea and problems sleeping. Hospice provides spiritual and social support, which can significantly improve quality of life.

Many studies have shown that patients receiving hospice care, on average, actually live longer (and, presumably more comfortably) than those terminal patients who are not on hospice.

At Hope Hospice of St. Louis, we work everyday to correct misconceptions about hospice. We understand why these misconceptions exist. One main reason is many people do not learn about hospice until it is absolutely necessary. Death is an uncomfortable topic for most of us and, naturally, not something we want to focus on. For those with aging parents, as well as those who are moving into the “golden years” of life, learning about hospice should be a vital concern.

The main problem with these misconceptions is they cause people to avoid or delay taking advantage of all that hospice care has to offer. We at Hope Hospice of St. Louis are always happy to provide information and answer questions about hospice care. We know that we can never completely eliminate all the misconceptions about hospice. We also know that sharing the correct information with one person, one family, one church guild, one civic organization, one medical facility employee group or one entire community can lead patients who need hospice to connect with hospice. Call us or visit us online.

Phone number: 314-984-9800

Web link: Hope Hospice of St. Louis.