Hospice Care Timeline: Estimating How Long to Live

|

Feb 27, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

hospice care timeline

Hospice Care Timeline: Estimating How Long to Live

|

Feb 27, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

Hospice Care Timeline: Estimating How Long to Live

|

Feb 27, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

hospice care timeline

Hospice Care Timeline: Estimating How Long to Live

|

Feb 27, 2024

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

hospice care timeline

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

Hospice care makes the end of life as comfortable as possible for dying patients. Death is an inevitable but sudden event. As such, it can be comforting to have a predicted death date and choose hospice care in the lead-up to it. 

Many patients have multiple questions about the hospice process and timeline. This guide will explore hospice care and all the details about treatment. 


Key Takeaways

  • Hospice care is for patients with a life expectancy of less than 6 months.

  • More than 90% of hospice patients die within the 6-month timeframe. Factors like age, gender, and sickness influence the death date.

  • It's possible for patients to feel better during hospice care and resume treatment.


How Long Does the Average Hospice Patient Have to Live?

how long does the average hospice patient have to live

There's no accurate prediction of the time hospice patients have to live. Their lifetime depends on several factors: the nature of their disease, the state of their body, and treatment. 

Yelena Wheeler, a writer at Endomondo and a former nutrition and life span professor at Azusa Pacific University, says:

“Hospice is generally initiated for terminal patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less.

However, some patients are referred to hospice at much later stages of the disease process and may only live in hospice for a couple of days.

It is also important to note that individuals may sometimes stay in hospice longer than 6 months. They need to be recertified in order to confirm that they are still on the decline and are terminal.”

However, data proves many patients spend less than three months in hospice. 

A 2023 fact sheet prepared by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization shows around 75% of hospice patients spend 79 days or less in hospice. However, some patients spend months in hospice without dying. 

You must have 6 months or less to live to qualify for hospice care. You have to submit a certified and signed prognosis proving this fact. Although most die within this period, it's possible to be in hospice through the 6 months without passing away.


Factors Affecting How Long a Patient Will Be in Hospice Care

factors affecting how long a patient will be in hospice care

Hospice care means the patient stops treating whatever sickness they're going through. Instead, the facility will only treat symptoms and relieve them of pain caused by the sickness.

The amount of time someone has left varies based on many factors, and typically, a doctor’s prognosis is the most accurate. Here are some factors to determine how long a patient lasts in hospice. 

Sickness Progression

The advancement of the disease is the first and most crucial factor affecting a patient's time in hospice. All terminal illnesses have their respective timelines that patients can live by. If a patient subscribes to hospice close to the end of their expected lifetime, they'll have a short hospice period. 

Most terminal illnesses come in different stages, and the patient nears the death date as the illness worsens. A good example is cancer, which comes in stages. If hospice care starts when the cancer worsens, it will reduce the time spent in hospice care. 

Furthermore, some terminal illnesses are known to affect other organs in the body system. The patient's health will deteriorate if the organs aren’t in good shape before the illness. This reduces their life expectancy.

The patient's time in hospice care gets shorter if they have multiple illnesses. A good example is someone with a failing kidney and liver at the same time. It's only a matter of time before one of these essential organs fails. 

Age

According to World Population Review, the world's average life expectancy was 70.8 and 76 for men and women, respectively. A hospice patient at a more senior age, close to average life expectancy, is at a higher risk of dying than younger people. 

Older people have weaker organs. So, illnesses tend to affect them severely compared to a younger person. The reason for weaker organs in older people is due to adjustments in cell and tissue mechanisms. However, their lifestyle in the past can contribute to their weaknesses. 

Our comprehensive guide on helping elderly parents can help you help an older loved one through this stage of their lives. 

Clinical Stability

Most hospice patients come in after trying several treatment methods. The state of the patient before coming into hospice care will influence how much time they have left. Standard hospice care should have medical records and information. 

You can store your medical records and other sensitive information on Trustworthy. Our platform is secure, organized, family-oriented, and easy to use. With Trustworthy, you and your family can get secure and reliable access to all necessary medical information. 

Access to Services

Sometimes, people know about hospice but must travel to nearby cities for specialist care. However, if the patient is in an extra rural part of the country with difficulty getting to nearby cities, they may not be able to receive timely hospice care, and will not last as long. 

Additionally, if they have no coverage for hospice care, they may simply not have the financial resources to start hospice care early.

If there's no well-crafted emergency plan, the patient may lose their life before getting hospice care. In other cases, the patient may arrive late and survive for only a few days. 

Gender

According to the National Library of Medicine, men worldwide have a shorter life expectancy than women. The average older woman lives four to seven more years than an older man. 

Doctor Robert H. Shmerling, the Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, highlights possible factors causing more male deaths. These factors include; 

  • Higher risks

  • Heart disease 

  • Suicide

  • Missed doctor appointments 

So, a male patient in hospice care is expected to die first before a female patient dies. Note that this fact is subject to the nature of the sickness, previous lifestyle, and response to treatment.


How Can Patients Be Discharged from Hospice?

how can patients be discharged from hospice

About 90% of hospice patients die within the 6-month timeline in hospice care. It’s not a common experience for a patient in hospice care to improve during treatment. However, it's still possible, depending on some factors. 

The first factor is when the life expectancy predictions are inaccurate. Life expectancy date calculations rely on data, including; 

  • Mortality rate

  • Morbidity rate 

  • Type of ailment and its extent

  • Human functionality

  • Laboratory tests

Sometimes, this data may not be accurate, there could be false positives at the lab tests for example. You can save all of this medical information on Trustworthy to reconfirm life expectancy. 

It's also possible for data from the tests to be correct and the patient's health improves. The patient may become stable enough to continue ongoing treatment for the sickness. 

Another uncommon reason for discharge from a hospice care facility is because of certain behavior. Some patients may exhibit certain aggressive behaviors (for a variety of emotional and medical reasons) — and hospice care may discharge the patient if this gets out of hand. 


What to Do When You Know End of Life Is Near

what to do when you know end of life is near

When the end of life is near, patients start to feel weaker, grow cold hands and feet, and lose appetite completely. It’s important not to let the situation steal their joy. 

Let's explore some activities to enjoy when there’s a predicted end-of-life period. 

Organize Advanced Care Directives

An advance care directive means a loved one handles treatment and care decisions. Some sicknesses may affect the ability to think and speak as patients approach the end of life. Advanced care directives will be helpful in this scenario. 

If you organize your family’s documents with Trustworthy, your emergency contact will be the ideal person to reach for care directives. Our guide on the importance of emergency contacts and the information they should have will help you understand better. Your emergency contact should be someone you trust and can be vulnerable with. 

Organize Legal Documents

You should have legal documents like wills and trusts from when the end of life closes in. These instructions explain your will and how you want to distribute the properties. 

Trustworthy offers a safe, private, organized platform to store legal documents and control who can access them. Our family operating system will organize the information automatically, making it clear to even new collaborators. 

Choose How You Want to End Life

Patients nearing the end of life deserve a chance to choose the activities they want to engage in. 

They can also start making funeral arrangements for themselves. They may have wishes, announcements, and other activities they want to occur at the funeral.

Spend Time with Loved Ones

It's better to end life with the happiest of memories. They must spend time with loved ones, reminisce about old times and be happy. 

They can communicate and have fun with them, plus, they can also enjoy their presence. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the 4 stages of hospice?

The four stages of hospice care are: 

  • Home Hospice Care: This is the most popular type of hospice. The hospice experts will collaborate with loved ones to craft a plan that suits the patient. This type of hospice care is for stable patients. 


  • Continuous Hospice Care: This type of hospice is for more chronic cases or a busy family. Here, you'll need the help of hospice personnel in the home. The hospice facility will provide nurses running different shifts with the patient. 


  • Inpatient Care: This hospice type is for symptoms one can't control in the home. The patient must be in a hospice or hospital facility for the best results. 


  • Respite Care: This type of hospice is a makeshift hospice that gives rest to your loved one. Here, the hospice specialist will help stay with the patient while the family caregivers get to rest and pursue other activities. 

How long does a hospice patient have when they stop eating?

Loss of appetite is a symptom of a very close end of life. Most hospice patients usually have 10-14 days to live when this occurs. However, some cases will differ, and the patient may regain appetite days after. 

Is hospice care only for the end of life?

Yes, hospice care is only for end-of-life treatment for people with a life expectancy of 6 months and below. Another name for hospice care is end-of-life care. 

What is likely to happen 2 weeks before death?

Two weeks before death, patients may exhibit one or more of these signs; 

  • Loss of appetite

  • Less energy

  • Lower body temperature 

  • Cough and breathing struggles

  • Change in skin color

  • Sudden pulses and movements

  • Confusion and hallucinations

Hospice care makes the end of life as comfortable as possible for dying patients. Death is an inevitable but sudden event. As such, it can be comforting to have a predicted death date and choose hospice care in the lead-up to it. 

Many patients have multiple questions about the hospice process and timeline. This guide will explore hospice care and all the details about treatment. 


Key Takeaways

  • Hospice care is for patients with a life expectancy of less than 6 months.

  • More than 90% of hospice patients die within the 6-month timeframe. Factors like age, gender, and sickness influence the death date.

  • It's possible for patients to feel better during hospice care and resume treatment.


How Long Does the Average Hospice Patient Have to Live?

how long does the average hospice patient have to live

There's no accurate prediction of the time hospice patients have to live. Their lifetime depends on several factors: the nature of their disease, the state of their body, and treatment. 

Yelena Wheeler, a writer at Endomondo and a former nutrition and life span professor at Azusa Pacific University, says:

“Hospice is generally initiated for terminal patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less.

However, some patients are referred to hospice at much later stages of the disease process and may only live in hospice for a couple of days.

It is also important to note that individuals may sometimes stay in hospice longer than 6 months. They need to be recertified in order to confirm that they are still on the decline and are terminal.”

However, data proves many patients spend less than three months in hospice. 

A 2023 fact sheet prepared by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization shows around 75% of hospice patients spend 79 days or less in hospice. However, some patients spend months in hospice without dying. 

You must have 6 months or less to live to qualify for hospice care. You have to submit a certified and signed prognosis proving this fact. Although most die within this period, it's possible to be in hospice through the 6 months without passing away.


Factors Affecting How Long a Patient Will Be in Hospice Care

factors affecting how long a patient will be in hospice care

Hospice care means the patient stops treating whatever sickness they're going through. Instead, the facility will only treat symptoms and relieve them of pain caused by the sickness.

The amount of time someone has left varies based on many factors, and typically, a doctor’s prognosis is the most accurate. Here are some factors to determine how long a patient lasts in hospice. 

Sickness Progression

The advancement of the disease is the first and most crucial factor affecting a patient's time in hospice. All terminal illnesses have their respective timelines that patients can live by. If a patient subscribes to hospice close to the end of their expected lifetime, they'll have a short hospice period. 

Most terminal illnesses come in different stages, and the patient nears the death date as the illness worsens. A good example is cancer, which comes in stages. If hospice care starts when the cancer worsens, it will reduce the time spent in hospice care. 

Furthermore, some terminal illnesses are known to affect other organs in the body system. The patient's health will deteriorate if the organs aren’t in good shape before the illness. This reduces their life expectancy.

The patient's time in hospice care gets shorter if they have multiple illnesses. A good example is someone with a failing kidney and liver at the same time. It's only a matter of time before one of these essential organs fails. 

Age

According to World Population Review, the world's average life expectancy was 70.8 and 76 for men and women, respectively. A hospice patient at a more senior age, close to average life expectancy, is at a higher risk of dying than younger people. 

Older people have weaker organs. So, illnesses tend to affect them severely compared to a younger person. The reason for weaker organs in older people is due to adjustments in cell and tissue mechanisms. However, their lifestyle in the past can contribute to their weaknesses. 

Our comprehensive guide on helping elderly parents can help you help an older loved one through this stage of their lives. 

Clinical Stability

Most hospice patients come in after trying several treatment methods. The state of the patient before coming into hospice care will influence how much time they have left. Standard hospice care should have medical records and information. 

You can store your medical records and other sensitive information on Trustworthy. Our platform is secure, organized, family-oriented, and easy to use. With Trustworthy, you and your family can get secure and reliable access to all necessary medical information. 

Access to Services

Sometimes, people know about hospice but must travel to nearby cities for specialist care. However, if the patient is in an extra rural part of the country with difficulty getting to nearby cities, they may not be able to receive timely hospice care, and will not last as long. 

Additionally, if they have no coverage for hospice care, they may simply not have the financial resources to start hospice care early.

If there's no well-crafted emergency plan, the patient may lose their life before getting hospice care. In other cases, the patient may arrive late and survive for only a few days. 

Gender

According to the National Library of Medicine, men worldwide have a shorter life expectancy than women. The average older woman lives four to seven more years than an older man. 

Doctor Robert H. Shmerling, the Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, highlights possible factors causing more male deaths. These factors include; 

  • Higher risks

  • Heart disease 

  • Suicide

  • Missed doctor appointments 

So, a male patient in hospice care is expected to die first before a female patient dies. Note that this fact is subject to the nature of the sickness, previous lifestyle, and response to treatment.


How Can Patients Be Discharged from Hospice?

how can patients be discharged from hospice

About 90% of hospice patients die within the 6-month timeline in hospice care. It’s not a common experience for a patient in hospice care to improve during treatment. However, it's still possible, depending on some factors. 

The first factor is when the life expectancy predictions are inaccurate. Life expectancy date calculations rely on data, including; 

  • Mortality rate

  • Morbidity rate 

  • Type of ailment and its extent

  • Human functionality

  • Laboratory tests

Sometimes, this data may not be accurate, there could be false positives at the lab tests for example. You can save all of this medical information on Trustworthy to reconfirm life expectancy. 

It's also possible for data from the tests to be correct and the patient's health improves. The patient may become stable enough to continue ongoing treatment for the sickness. 

Another uncommon reason for discharge from a hospice care facility is because of certain behavior. Some patients may exhibit certain aggressive behaviors (for a variety of emotional and medical reasons) — and hospice care may discharge the patient if this gets out of hand. 


What to Do When You Know End of Life Is Near

what to do when you know end of life is near

When the end of life is near, patients start to feel weaker, grow cold hands and feet, and lose appetite completely. It’s important not to let the situation steal their joy. 

Let's explore some activities to enjoy when there’s a predicted end-of-life period. 

Organize Advanced Care Directives

An advance care directive means a loved one handles treatment and care decisions. Some sicknesses may affect the ability to think and speak as patients approach the end of life. Advanced care directives will be helpful in this scenario. 

If you organize your family’s documents with Trustworthy, your emergency contact will be the ideal person to reach for care directives. Our guide on the importance of emergency contacts and the information they should have will help you understand better. Your emergency contact should be someone you trust and can be vulnerable with. 

Organize Legal Documents

You should have legal documents like wills and trusts from when the end of life closes in. These instructions explain your will and how you want to distribute the properties. 

Trustworthy offers a safe, private, organized platform to store legal documents and control who can access them. Our family operating system will organize the information automatically, making it clear to even new collaborators. 

Choose How You Want to End Life

Patients nearing the end of life deserve a chance to choose the activities they want to engage in. 

They can also start making funeral arrangements for themselves. They may have wishes, announcements, and other activities they want to occur at the funeral.

Spend Time with Loved Ones

It's better to end life with the happiest of memories. They must spend time with loved ones, reminisce about old times and be happy. 

They can communicate and have fun with them, plus, they can also enjoy their presence. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the 4 stages of hospice?

The four stages of hospice care are: 

  • Home Hospice Care: This is the most popular type of hospice. The hospice experts will collaborate with loved ones to craft a plan that suits the patient. This type of hospice care is for stable patients. 


  • Continuous Hospice Care: This type of hospice is for more chronic cases or a busy family. Here, you'll need the help of hospice personnel in the home. The hospice facility will provide nurses running different shifts with the patient. 


  • Inpatient Care: This hospice type is for symptoms one can't control in the home. The patient must be in a hospice or hospital facility for the best results. 


  • Respite Care: This type of hospice is a makeshift hospice that gives rest to your loved one. Here, the hospice specialist will help stay with the patient while the family caregivers get to rest and pursue other activities. 

How long does a hospice patient have when they stop eating?

Loss of appetite is a symptom of a very close end of life. Most hospice patients usually have 10-14 days to live when this occurs. However, some cases will differ, and the patient may regain appetite days after. 

Is hospice care only for the end of life?

Yes, hospice care is only for end-of-life treatment for people with a life expectancy of 6 months and below. Another name for hospice care is end-of-life care. 

What is likely to happen 2 weeks before death?

Two weeks before death, patients may exhibit one or more of these signs; 

  • Loss of appetite

  • Less energy

  • Lower body temperature 

  • Cough and breathing struggles

  • Change in skin color

  • Sudden pulses and movements

  • Confusion and hallucinations

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

Hospice care makes the end of life as comfortable as possible for dying patients. Death is an inevitable but sudden event. As such, it can be comforting to have a predicted death date and choose hospice care in the lead-up to it. 

Many patients have multiple questions about the hospice process and timeline. This guide will explore hospice care and all the details about treatment. 


Key Takeaways

  • Hospice care is for patients with a life expectancy of less than 6 months.

  • More than 90% of hospice patients die within the 6-month timeframe. Factors like age, gender, and sickness influence the death date.

  • It's possible for patients to feel better during hospice care and resume treatment.


How Long Does the Average Hospice Patient Have to Live?

how long does the average hospice patient have to live

There's no accurate prediction of the time hospice patients have to live. Their lifetime depends on several factors: the nature of their disease, the state of their body, and treatment. 

Yelena Wheeler, a writer at Endomondo and a former nutrition and life span professor at Azusa Pacific University, says:

“Hospice is generally initiated for terminal patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less.

However, some patients are referred to hospice at much later stages of the disease process and may only live in hospice for a couple of days.

It is also important to note that individuals may sometimes stay in hospice longer than 6 months. They need to be recertified in order to confirm that they are still on the decline and are terminal.”

However, data proves many patients spend less than three months in hospice. 

A 2023 fact sheet prepared by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization shows around 75% of hospice patients spend 79 days or less in hospice. However, some patients spend months in hospice without dying. 

You must have 6 months or less to live to qualify for hospice care. You have to submit a certified and signed prognosis proving this fact. Although most die within this period, it's possible to be in hospice through the 6 months without passing away.


Factors Affecting How Long a Patient Will Be in Hospice Care

factors affecting how long a patient will be in hospice care

Hospice care means the patient stops treating whatever sickness they're going through. Instead, the facility will only treat symptoms and relieve them of pain caused by the sickness.

The amount of time someone has left varies based on many factors, and typically, a doctor’s prognosis is the most accurate. Here are some factors to determine how long a patient lasts in hospice. 

Sickness Progression

The advancement of the disease is the first and most crucial factor affecting a patient's time in hospice. All terminal illnesses have their respective timelines that patients can live by. If a patient subscribes to hospice close to the end of their expected lifetime, they'll have a short hospice period. 

Most terminal illnesses come in different stages, and the patient nears the death date as the illness worsens. A good example is cancer, which comes in stages. If hospice care starts when the cancer worsens, it will reduce the time spent in hospice care. 

Furthermore, some terminal illnesses are known to affect other organs in the body system. The patient's health will deteriorate if the organs aren’t in good shape before the illness. This reduces their life expectancy.

The patient's time in hospice care gets shorter if they have multiple illnesses. A good example is someone with a failing kidney and liver at the same time. It's only a matter of time before one of these essential organs fails. 

Age

According to World Population Review, the world's average life expectancy was 70.8 and 76 for men and women, respectively. A hospice patient at a more senior age, close to average life expectancy, is at a higher risk of dying than younger people. 

Older people have weaker organs. So, illnesses tend to affect them severely compared to a younger person. The reason for weaker organs in older people is due to adjustments in cell and tissue mechanisms. However, their lifestyle in the past can contribute to their weaknesses. 

Our comprehensive guide on helping elderly parents can help you help an older loved one through this stage of their lives. 

Clinical Stability

Most hospice patients come in after trying several treatment methods. The state of the patient before coming into hospice care will influence how much time they have left. Standard hospice care should have medical records and information. 

You can store your medical records and other sensitive information on Trustworthy. Our platform is secure, organized, family-oriented, and easy to use. With Trustworthy, you and your family can get secure and reliable access to all necessary medical information. 

Access to Services

Sometimes, people know about hospice but must travel to nearby cities for specialist care. However, if the patient is in an extra rural part of the country with difficulty getting to nearby cities, they may not be able to receive timely hospice care, and will not last as long. 

Additionally, if they have no coverage for hospice care, they may simply not have the financial resources to start hospice care early.

If there's no well-crafted emergency plan, the patient may lose their life before getting hospice care. In other cases, the patient may arrive late and survive for only a few days. 

Gender

According to the National Library of Medicine, men worldwide have a shorter life expectancy than women. The average older woman lives four to seven more years than an older man. 

Doctor Robert H. Shmerling, the Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, highlights possible factors causing more male deaths. These factors include; 

  • Higher risks

  • Heart disease 

  • Suicide

  • Missed doctor appointments 

So, a male patient in hospice care is expected to die first before a female patient dies. Note that this fact is subject to the nature of the sickness, previous lifestyle, and response to treatment.


How Can Patients Be Discharged from Hospice?

how can patients be discharged from hospice

About 90% of hospice patients die within the 6-month timeline in hospice care. It’s not a common experience for a patient in hospice care to improve during treatment. However, it's still possible, depending on some factors. 

The first factor is when the life expectancy predictions are inaccurate. Life expectancy date calculations rely on data, including; 

  • Mortality rate

  • Morbidity rate 

  • Type of ailment and its extent

  • Human functionality

  • Laboratory tests

Sometimes, this data may not be accurate, there could be false positives at the lab tests for example. You can save all of this medical information on Trustworthy to reconfirm life expectancy. 

It's also possible for data from the tests to be correct and the patient's health improves. The patient may become stable enough to continue ongoing treatment for the sickness. 

Another uncommon reason for discharge from a hospice care facility is because of certain behavior. Some patients may exhibit certain aggressive behaviors (for a variety of emotional and medical reasons) — and hospice care may discharge the patient if this gets out of hand. 


What to Do When You Know End of Life Is Near

what to do when you know end of life is near

When the end of life is near, patients start to feel weaker, grow cold hands and feet, and lose appetite completely. It’s important not to let the situation steal their joy. 

Let's explore some activities to enjoy when there’s a predicted end-of-life period. 

Organize Advanced Care Directives

An advance care directive means a loved one handles treatment and care decisions. Some sicknesses may affect the ability to think and speak as patients approach the end of life. Advanced care directives will be helpful in this scenario. 

If you organize your family’s documents with Trustworthy, your emergency contact will be the ideal person to reach for care directives. Our guide on the importance of emergency contacts and the information they should have will help you understand better. Your emergency contact should be someone you trust and can be vulnerable with. 

Organize Legal Documents

You should have legal documents like wills and trusts from when the end of life closes in. These instructions explain your will and how you want to distribute the properties. 

Trustworthy offers a safe, private, organized platform to store legal documents and control who can access them. Our family operating system will organize the information automatically, making it clear to even new collaborators. 

Choose How You Want to End Life

Patients nearing the end of life deserve a chance to choose the activities they want to engage in. 

They can also start making funeral arrangements for themselves. They may have wishes, announcements, and other activities they want to occur at the funeral.

Spend Time with Loved Ones

It's better to end life with the happiest of memories. They must spend time with loved ones, reminisce about old times and be happy. 

They can communicate and have fun with them, plus, they can also enjoy their presence. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the 4 stages of hospice?

The four stages of hospice care are: 

  • Home Hospice Care: This is the most popular type of hospice. The hospice experts will collaborate with loved ones to craft a plan that suits the patient. This type of hospice care is for stable patients. 


  • Continuous Hospice Care: This type of hospice is for more chronic cases or a busy family. Here, you'll need the help of hospice personnel in the home. The hospice facility will provide nurses running different shifts with the patient. 


  • Inpatient Care: This hospice type is for symptoms one can't control in the home. The patient must be in a hospice or hospital facility for the best results. 


  • Respite Care: This type of hospice is a makeshift hospice that gives rest to your loved one. Here, the hospice specialist will help stay with the patient while the family caregivers get to rest and pursue other activities. 

How long does a hospice patient have when they stop eating?

Loss of appetite is a symptom of a very close end of life. Most hospice patients usually have 10-14 days to live when this occurs. However, some cases will differ, and the patient may regain appetite days after. 

Is hospice care only for the end of life?

Yes, hospice care is only for end-of-life treatment for people with a life expectancy of 6 months and below. Another name for hospice care is end-of-life care. 

What is likely to happen 2 weeks before death?

Two weeks before death, patients may exhibit one or more of these signs; 

  • Loss of appetite

  • Less energy

  • Lower body temperature 

  • Cough and breathing struggles

  • Change in skin color

  • Sudden pulses and movements

  • Confusion and hallucinations

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

Hospice care makes the end of life as comfortable as possible for dying patients. Death is an inevitable but sudden event. As such, it can be comforting to have a predicted death date and choose hospice care in the lead-up to it. 

Many patients have multiple questions about the hospice process and timeline. This guide will explore hospice care and all the details about treatment. 


Key Takeaways

  • Hospice care is for patients with a life expectancy of less than 6 months.

  • More than 90% of hospice patients die within the 6-month timeframe. Factors like age, gender, and sickness influence the death date.

  • It's possible for patients to feel better during hospice care and resume treatment.


How Long Does the Average Hospice Patient Have to Live?

how long does the average hospice patient have to live

There's no accurate prediction of the time hospice patients have to live. Their lifetime depends on several factors: the nature of their disease, the state of their body, and treatment. 

Yelena Wheeler, a writer at Endomondo and a former nutrition and life span professor at Azusa Pacific University, says:

“Hospice is generally initiated for terminal patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less.

However, some patients are referred to hospice at much later stages of the disease process and may only live in hospice for a couple of days.

It is also important to note that individuals may sometimes stay in hospice longer than 6 months. They need to be recertified in order to confirm that they are still on the decline and are terminal.”

However, data proves many patients spend less than three months in hospice. 

A 2023 fact sheet prepared by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization shows around 75% of hospice patients spend 79 days or less in hospice. However, some patients spend months in hospice without dying. 

You must have 6 months or less to live to qualify for hospice care. You have to submit a certified and signed prognosis proving this fact. Although most die within this period, it's possible to be in hospice through the 6 months without passing away.


Factors Affecting How Long a Patient Will Be in Hospice Care

factors affecting how long a patient will be in hospice care

Hospice care means the patient stops treating whatever sickness they're going through. Instead, the facility will only treat symptoms and relieve them of pain caused by the sickness.

The amount of time someone has left varies based on many factors, and typically, a doctor’s prognosis is the most accurate. Here are some factors to determine how long a patient lasts in hospice. 

Sickness Progression

The advancement of the disease is the first and most crucial factor affecting a patient's time in hospice. All terminal illnesses have their respective timelines that patients can live by. If a patient subscribes to hospice close to the end of their expected lifetime, they'll have a short hospice period. 

Most terminal illnesses come in different stages, and the patient nears the death date as the illness worsens. A good example is cancer, which comes in stages. If hospice care starts when the cancer worsens, it will reduce the time spent in hospice care. 

Furthermore, some terminal illnesses are known to affect other organs in the body system. The patient's health will deteriorate if the organs aren’t in good shape before the illness. This reduces their life expectancy.

The patient's time in hospice care gets shorter if they have multiple illnesses. A good example is someone with a failing kidney and liver at the same time. It's only a matter of time before one of these essential organs fails. 

Age

According to World Population Review, the world's average life expectancy was 70.8 and 76 for men and women, respectively. A hospice patient at a more senior age, close to average life expectancy, is at a higher risk of dying than younger people. 

Older people have weaker organs. So, illnesses tend to affect them severely compared to a younger person. The reason for weaker organs in older people is due to adjustments in cell and tissue mechanisms. However, their lifestyle in the past can contribute to their weaknesses. 

Our comprehensive guide on helping elderly parents can help you help an older loved one through this stage of their lives. 

Clinical Stability

Most hospice patients come in after trying several treatment methods. The state of the patient before coming into hospice care will influence how much time they have left. Standard hospice care should have medical records and information. 

You can store your medical records and other sensitive information on Trustworthy. Our platform is secure, organized, family-oriented, and easy to use. With Trustworthy, you and your family can get secure and reliable access to all necessary medical information. 

Access to Services

Sometimes, people know about hospice but must travel to nearby cities for specialist care. However, if the patient is in an extra rural part of the country with difficulty getting to nearby cities, they may not be able to receive timely hospice care, and will not last as long. 

Additionally, if they have no coverage for hospice care, they may simply not have the financial resources to start hospice care early.

If there's no well-crafted emergency plan, the patient may lose their life before getting hospice care. In other cases, the patient may arrive late and survive for only a few days. 

Gender

According to the National Library of Medicine, men worldwide have a shorter life expectancy than women. The average older woman lives four to seven more years than an older man. 

Doctor Robert H. Shmerling, the Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, highlights possible factors causing more male deaths. These factors include; 

  • Higher risks

  • Heart disease 

  • Suicide

  • Missed doctor appointments 

So, a male patient in hospice care is expected to die first before a female patient dies. Note that this fact is subject to the nature of the sickness, previous lifestyle, and response to treatment.


How Can Patients Be Discharged from Hospice?

how can patients be discharged from hospice

About 90% of hospice patients die within the 6-month timeline in hospice care. It’s not a common experience for a patient in hospice care to improve during treatment. However, it's still possible, depending on some factors. 

The first factor is when the life expectancy predictions are inaccurate. Life expectancy date calculations rely on data, including; 

  • Mortality rate

  • Morbidity rate 

  • Type of ailment and its extent

  • Human functionality

  • Laboratory tests

Sometimes, this data may not be accurate, there could be false positives at the lab tests for example. You can save all of this medical information on Trustworthy to reconfirm life expectancy. 

It's also possible for data from the tests to be correct and the patient's health improves. The patient may become stable enough to continue ongoing treatment for the sickness. 

Another uncommon reason for discharge from a hospice care facility is because of certain behavior. Some patients may exhibit certain aggressive behaviors (for a variety of emotional and medical reasons) — and hospice care may discharge the patient if this gets out of hand. 


What to Do When You Know End of Life Is Near

what to do when you know end of life is near

When the end of life is near, patients start to feel weaker, grow cold hands and feet, and lose appetite completely. It’s important not to let the situation steal their joy. 

Let's explore some activities to enjoy when there’s a predicted end-of-life period. 

Organize Advanced Care Directives

An advance care directive means a loved one handles treatment and care decisions. Some sicknesses may affect the ability to think and speak as patients approach the end of life. Advanced care directives will be helpful in this scenario. 

If you organize your family’s documents with Trustworthy, your emergency contact will be the ideal person to reach for care directives. Our guide on the importance of emergency contacts and the information they should have will help you understand better. Your emergency contact should be someone you trust and can be vulnerable with. 

Organize Legal Documents

You should have legal documents like wills and trusts from when the end of life closes in. These instructions explain your will and how you want to distribute the properties. 

Trustworthy offers a safe, private, organized platform to store legal documents and control who can access them. Our family operating system will organize the information automatically, making it clear to even new collaborators. 

Choose How You Want to End Life

Patients nearing the end of life deserve a chance to choose the activities they want to engage in. 

They can also start making funeral arrangements for themselves. They may have wishes, announcements, and other activities they want to occur at the funeral.

Spend Time with Loved Ones

It's better to end life with the happiest of memories. They must spend time with loved ones, reminisce about old times and be happy. 

They can communicate and have fun with them, plus, they can also enjoy their presence. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the 4 stages of hospice?

The four stages of hospice care are: 

  • Home Hospice Care: This is the most popular type of hospice. The hospice experts will collaborate with loved ones to craft a plan that suits the patient. This type of hospice care is for stable patients. 


  • Continuous Hospice Care: This type of hospice is for more chronic cases or a busy family. Here, you'll need the help of hospice personnel in the home. The hospice facility will provide nurses running different shifts with the patient. 


  • Inpatient Care: This hospice type is for symptoms one can't control in the home. The patient must be in a hospice or hospital facility for the best results. 


  • Respite Care: This type of hospice is a makeshift hospice that gives rest to your loved one. Here, the hospice specialist will help stay with the patient while the family caregivers get to rest and pursue other activities. 

How long does a hospice patient have when they stop eating?

Loss of appetite is a symptom of a very close end of life. Most hospice patients usually have 10-14 days to live when this occurs. However, some cases will differ, and the patient may regain appetite days after. 

Is hospice care only for the end of life?

Yes, hospice care is only for end-of-life treatment for people with a life expectancy of 6 months and below. Another name for hospice care is end-of-life care. 

What is likely to happen 2 weeks before death?

Two weeks before death, patients may exhibit one or more of these signs; 

  • Loss of appetite

  • Less energy

  • Lower body temperature 

  • Cough and breathing struggles

  • Change in skin color

  • Sudden pulses and movements

  • Confusion and hallucinations

Try Trustworthy today.

Try Trustworthy today.

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