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A Healthier You

More Americans are dying at home rather than in hospitals

12/19/2019

(ABC) – For the first time since the early 1900s, more Americans are dying at home rather than in hospitals, a trend that reflects more hospice care and progress toward the kind of end that most people say they want.

Deaths in nursing homes also have declined, according to Wednesday’s report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“It’s a good thing. Death has become overly medicalized over the last century” and this shows a turn away from that, said the lead author, Dr. Haider Warraich of the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System.

Betsy McNair, a tour guide who now lives in Mexico, is proud of the ending she helped give her father. Robert McNair was 83 when he died at home in Belle Haven, Virginia, in 2009, six weeks after learning he had lung cancer.

“I made him exactly what he wanted to eat, whenever he wanted it. He had a scotch every night, he had a very high quality of life. If he woke up at 2 o’clock in the morning and wanted to have coffee and pie, that’s what we did,” she said.

Warraich and Duke University graduate student Sarah Cross used government health statistics on deaths from natural causes, rather than accidents or homicides, from 2003 through 2017. The portion that occurred in hospitals fell from 40% to 30% over that period and in nursing homes from 24% to 21%.

Deaths in homes rose, from 24% to 31%. Some assisted living centers may have been counted as homes; researchers had no way to tell.

Read the full story at abc.go.com


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