Hospice care may start later for patients in assisted living

Categories: Care.

Assisted living facility residents may also be less likely to receive opiate painkillers to ease discomfort in their final days, and less likely to die in an inpatient hospice unit.

“These findings point out the importance of thinking carefully about the advantages and disadvantages of care settings,” lead study author Dr. David Casarett, director of palliative care for Penn Medicine, said by email.

Each year, an estimated 1.6 million Americans receive hospice care, which focuses on comfort and quality of life rather than on curing disease, Casarett and colleagues note in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

While roughly two thirds of people “in hospice” receive care at home, a significant minority – 7 percent – live in residential facilities such as assisted living settings, according to the researchers. By 2050, 27 million people will be 65 and older in the U.S., and many of them will be housed in assisted living.

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