Home is where the heart is and where most people prefer to spend their final days. According to The Conversation Project, 70% of those surveyed want to die at home. In addition to being the most private setting, this option also allows family, friends, and others to visit easily and whenever the timing is best, which may provide comfort.
Services like hospice care, skilled nursing care and personal care (for example, for bathing or toileting) and special equipment like a hospital bed can usually be brought to the home setting. Other things to keep in mind when preparing or selecting end-of-life at home include:
When home is not an option
Sometimes it is not possible or safe to send a person home for end-of-life care. In those cases, the options are the hospital or a nursing home or other care facility.
Many people spend the last years of their lives visiting medical centers and hospitals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a little over 35% of people in the U.S. die in a hospital. When the hospital is the location at the end of life, remember:
In nursing homes or other group living settings
Just under 30% of people die in a nursing home, long-term-care, or other facility based on CDC analysis. For example, some people are discharged from a hospital to a nursing home. These communities provide a wide range of services, including nursing services, meals and rehabilitation. If selecting a facility for end–of life care, keep in mind that:
Care staff are always present. A doctor may not be on site but available when needed. Also, a hospice team can work with facility staff to provide comfort care and spiritual support at the end of life.
Relationships with staff can make the care feel more personalized than in the hospital.
Put your wishes in writing
All settings for end-of-life care have benefits and challenges. The best course of action is to think about where you would want to be, include that in your advance care plan or advance directive, and share that information with your family and health care providers. That way, whatever the circumstances, those who care for and about you can honor your preferences as much as possible.