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Death & Dying

Short Duration of Hospice Seen for Seniors at End of Life

HealthDay News

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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 13, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- The presence and number of restricting symptoms and the number of disabilities are associated with increased likelihood of hospice admission for older adults during their last year of life, according to a study published online Sept. 12 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Thomas M. Gill, M.D., from Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study to identify hospice admissions among a cohort of 754 persons aged 70 years and older.

The researchers found that 43.4 percent of participants were admitted to hospice during their last year of life. The median hospice duration was 12.5 days. The largest increases in restricting symptoms and mean number of restricting symptoms and disabilities were seen in the last two months of life, but there was high prevalence and upward trend in the preceding months. The likelihood of hospice admission increased by 66 percent during a specific month in the setting of any restricting symptoms and by 9 and 10 percent, respectively, for each additional restricting symptom and disability. The likelihood of hospice admission was increased by 7 percent for each additional month with any restricting symptoms.

"The short duration of hospice suggests that additional strategies are needed to better address the high burden of distressing symptoms and disability at the end of life," the authors write.

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