By Paula Span
Article originally published by the NY Times. Original article can be found here.
An older person, someone who will die within six months, leaves a hospital. Where does she go?
Almost a third of the time, according to a recent study from the University of California, San Francisco, records show she takes advantage of Medicare’s skilled-nursing facility benefit and enters a nursing home. But is that the best place for end-of-life care?
In terms of monitoring her vital signs and handling IVs — the round-the-clock nursing care that the skilled-nursing facility benefit is designed to provide — maybe so. But for treating end-of-life symptoms like pain and shortness of breath, for providing spiritual support for her and her family, for palliative care that helps her through the ultimate transition – hospice is the acknowledged expert.
Paula Span is the author of “When the Time Comes: Families With Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions.”