Average Time a Person is in Hospice Care Before Death

Published March 19, 2020
Home hospice care

Hospice care is recommended for those who are given six months or less to live. The average time someone spends in hospice care will depend on their unique condition or illness and their end-of-life plan.

Average Time Spent in Hospice Prior to Dying

On average, 76.1 days were spent in hospice care with about 82% passing away reports the National Hospice and Pallitive Care Organization (NHPCO). The remaining individuals were either discharged because they were no longer terminally ill or transferred to another facility. On average, those diagnosed with dementia had the longest average stays with around 110 days of care. Those with chronic kidney disease had the least amount of average days of care with around 38 days in hospice.

Nursing/Assisted Living Facility

Some individuals who are in hospice care were already living in an assisted living facility or were moved to a nursing facility or long-term care facility after their illness progressed. About 20% of those in hospice care passed away in either a nursing facility or assisted living facility.

At Home Hospice Care

Around 40% of those in hospice care passed away in their home. Many individuals opt to have their hospice care in their own home for comfort and peace of mind.

Inpatient Hospice Care

About 22 percent passed away in inpatient hospice care. Inpatient hospice care can be provided in the home or a facility, but the staff will often be different during the course of treatment, instead of the having consistent staff in an at-home hospice treatment option.

In-home hospice care

Conditions and Illnesses

Anyone with a terminal illness may consider hospice care to assist with pain management and acute symptom management in order to increase their quality of life. The types of illnesses most commonly seen in hospice care include:

  • 36.6% of those in hospice care have a cancer diagnosis
  • 14.8% were diagnosed with dementia
  • 14.7% were diagnosed with heart disease
  • 9.3% were diagnosed with lung disease

Stages of Hospice Care

There are several stages or levels of hospice care. Depending on a patient's needs, they may go from one stage to the next or pass away while receiving care in one stage. Once a patient begins the active stage of dying, care may increase to provide more comfort and pain relief support. When the patient begins to exhibit the signs of active dying, most will live for another three days on average. According to the NHPCO:

  • Routine Hospice Care: The majority of patients opt for routine hospice care, which is when a skilled professional treats them in their home. About 89% opt for this level of care.
  • Continuous Home Care: About 1.7% receive CHC which is when pain and acute symptoms are treated between eight and 24 hours a day in the patient's home.
  • Inpatient Respite Care: About 1.7% of patients opt for inpatient respite care. This type of treatment is given in a hospital or long term facility.
  • General Inpatient Care: About 7% of individuals receive this type of care. General inpatient care is best for those who would like to receive pain management treatment in a hospice facility, hospital, or long-term facility.
  • Some facilities consider bereavement care the final level of hospice care and offer services to the patient's loved ones.

Understanding Hospice Care

Hospice care can provide you or a loved one with the highest quality of life possible given the specific diagnosis or issue at hand. Although hospice care is recommended for those who have around six months to live, a study illustrated that about 13.4% of those admitted into hospice care went on to live well past the six months.

Average Time a Person is in Hospice Care Before Death