I Have a Terminal Diagnosis – How Do I Spend My Last Days At Home?

A physician is holding a stethoscope in one hand and a heart shaped ball in the other. He is "listening" to the heart. The image is framed by a drawing of a house.

A life-limiting diagnosis is not easy to digest – for yourself or for the friends and family who surround you. Suddenly, you are thrust into a season that you have never experienced before; you are now faced with decisions and challenges centered around transitioning from life into death. For some, hospice care is an easy decision because at the core of its foundation, hospice centers around the desires of the patient who is transitioning. In a survey conducted by Today’s Homeowner, 1,000 individuals over the age of 55 were asked whether they wanted to age at home or in a facility. An overwhelming 89% responded that they would prefer to age at home.1 While there are other options afforded to you as your disease progresses, this blog will focus on the benefit of dying at home on hospice care. From this point forward we will use “transitioning” instead of dying.

What are the benefits of transitioning at home?

When you are faced with making the decision of how and where to spend your last days, choosing to receive care at home has obvious benefits:

  • You are in a familiar environment (which can aid in decreasing anxiety)
  • You have access to your pets (which can provide additional comfort)
  • You can control the amount of activity in your environment (which can promote a peaceful atmosphere)
  • After death, family and friends can grieve at their own pace and decide when to call the ambulance or funeral home2 (which can aid in the grieving process)

The quality of care that is received by patients is very important; in fact, there are metrics captured regarding whether a patient’s desires were discussed and met. Being at home is half of the equation, it is important to share your care plan so that your team can meet each request. Quality of care metrics are public; most hospice locations share on social media or their website when they exceed patient or caregiver expectations. 99.9% of Bristol Hospice patients have the opportunity to discuss their wishes with a Registered Nurse on the day they admit to hospice.  All hospice patients receive care from an interdisciplinary team, who have the training, skills, and compassion necessary to help you meet your goals.

Hospice care gives you freedom to choose.

It’s important to address that not all hospice patients choose to die at home, some prefer to be moved to a Skilled Nursing Facility or Assisted Living Facility. Hospice care is about choices – you get to plan what is best for you and your loved ones during the transition process. Nearly 60% of Bristol patients receive care in private homes, and nearly all of them can remain at home until their death.  Our team is also highly skilled at facilitating short or long-term moves to facilities or can connect you with private caregivers to meet your needs.
End of life decisions can be difficult – let’s face it, you’ve never died before. It is important to explore all your options and create a transition plan that best suits your needs and desires. Contact our team today if you have questions about end-of-life care, a member of our team will walk you through your options.

1 https://todayshomeowner.com/moving/guides/aging-in-place-survey

2 https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/cancer-information/advanced-cancer/end-of-life/where-to-die/dying-in-your-own-home

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I Have a Terminal Diagnosis – How Do I Spend My Last Days At Home?

Published on November 14, 2023, updated on February 14, 2024

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