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Blog: Stories and Insight

Do Hospice Patients Ever Recover?

If you are considering hospice care, you may be wondering, Do hospice patients ever recover? Perhaps you are a facing a serious prognosis and thinking about whether enrolling in hospice care in South Jersey is the same as “giving up.” Or perhaps you are a son or daughter, secretly hoping Mom or Dad may rally in hospice and recover their full health.

Although recovery is typically not the outcome — nor the goal of hospice care — it does occasionally happen. However, the answer to the question, Can hospice patients recover? is not so simple. If you are receiving hospice care in South Jersey, you may see an improvement in your condition, which you may consider a recovery. However, a full recovery to your normal health status prior to serious illness is rare. Read on to learn the many benefits to choosing hospice care and how it can help you, and those who care about you, live your best life during serious illness.


What are the benefits of Hospice Care?

Hospice care is quality, compassionate care delivered by a team of experts for someone who is facing a serious or life-limiting illness. Your physician or specialist will refer you to hospice care in South Jersey if they think you have six months or less to live if your illness follows its natural course.

However, do not wait for your physician to bring up hospice care as a treatment option. Be your own healthcare advocate and ask about this important form of care as early as possible. Once enrolled in hospice care, the benefits of comfort, support, and dignity far outweigh postponing care. In addition, choosing hospice sooner may help you live longer and/or experience an improvement in your health (which can be considered a form of hospice patient recovery).

If you or a loved one has a life-limiting illness in South Jersey, or you have questions such as “Can hospice patients recover,” please contact Samaritan to learn how we can help. Call us 24/7 at (800) 229-8183.

The reason hospice patients typically see an improvement is that a hospice care team (made up of physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, and more) addresses your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. They help manage pain, assist with personal care, offer counseling, and even assist with bed linens, light meals, and other tasks as needed. Samaritan even offers 13-months bereavement counseling after the loss of a loved one.

The goal of the hospice care team is to provide care for the whole person, not just treat a disease. It offers comfort care, rather than curative care. But hospice care does not mean giving up – on the contrary, hospice focuses on every day of your life, and making sure you are provided with dignity and comfort each day. Hospice care also helps you and your family better understand and plan for the end of life, allowing time to resolve family and spiritual concerns and spend quality time on enjoyable pursuits.

So, Can Hospice Patients Recover?

Patients are usually receiving hospice care because they are no longer responding to curative treatment, and the choice has been made to focus on improving the quality of their remaining time, rather than actively working to extend life via curative treatment. White it is possible for you to see an improvement in your overall health and symptoms due to the consistent and personal medical care hospice provides, this does not mean that a hospice patient can fully recover to before the health issue occurred.

According to recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data, out of 1.3 million hospice beneficiaries analyzed from 2014, 142,000 (or 11%) had a live discharge from hospice care. A live discharge may happen for many reasons – you may want to give curative treatments another try, you may want to switch to another hospice program, or your physician may reevaluate your prognosis after some amount of hospice care is provided and determine you will live longer than six months.

No physician can accurately guess your future, so continuous evaluation of your condition throughout hospice care can change the prognosis. If your physician believes you may live beyond six months, the hospice care team will work with you and your loved ones to decide if and when hospice care should be discontinued, and if and when it should be resumed, should your condition deteriorate again. This is especially important when you are receiving hospice care as a Medicare benefit, since benefits may stop after six months.

Hospice Patient Recovery — Beyond Six Months

You may consider surviving beyond hospice’s standard six months as a recovery of sorts – and a study published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine found that 13.4% of patients do survive six months after hospice admission. However, the same study acknowledges that every illness, and every patient, is different, noting, “caution should be used in interpreting these data, and these results should not be used to exclude patients or groups from hospice care.”

If you or a loved one has a life-limiting illness in South Jersey, or you have questions such as “Can hospice patients recover,” please contact Samaritan to learn how we can help. Call us 24/7 at (800) 229-8183.

In addition, a study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management discovered that hospice has a positive impact on your longevity. In many cases, longevity, although not a recovery, can be considered an encouraging outcome. Longevity happens when you choose hospice instead of over treating and straining your weakened system. For example, cancer patients may decide to forego many rounds of chemotherapy for comfort care at home. Longevity is also increased

because the Medicare Hospice Benefit may allow you to receive medications you may not quality for otherwise. Finally, the extra support through a team looking out for your emotional well-being and physical health provides positive outcomes.

The True Purpose of Hospice

As much as you or your loved ones may wish for recovery as a hospice patient, it is important to remember that recovery is not the true purpose of hospice care. The real goal of hospice care is to provide the best possible quality of life for whatever time remains.  It’s important to note, hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. Rather, hospice recognizes that death is a natural part of the life cycle with a goal for you and those who care about you to live your best life every day.

If you or a loved one has a life-limiting illness in South Jersey, or you have questions such as “Can hospice patients recover,” please contact Samaritan to learn how we can help. Call us 24/7 at (800) 229-8183.