Archive for January 2016

Research Shows Higher Patient Satisfaction From Hospice Care

Posted on Jan 28, 2016

Hospice nurse and patient

Hospice care can be a good fit for a variety of patients, and a variety of illnesses. Many associate hospice care with only the elderly, or only cancer patients, but in reality hospice is beneficial for almost any patient facing a life-limiting illness and even offer benefits to their families. A recent study concentrated specifically on the benefits for cancer patients in hospice and found that both quality of care, and quality of life were improved in hospice care compared to a hospital's intensive care unit. Here are the details of that study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School. 

The research team began by collecting data on more than 1,100 cancer patients, who had all died by the end of 2011. The reports from surviving relatives overwhelmingly support the hypothesis that hospice offers better end of life care and creates a higher quality of life for cancer patients than does a hospital. 

Only 42-percent of families rated end of life care as "excellent" when a patient spent their last days in a hospital. For the family of hospice patients, however, 57-percent rated care as "excellent". 

The amount of time a patient spent in hospice care also influenced the satisfaction with their end of life care, which suggests that better advanced planning is needed to allow patients and their families to make decisions before the situation is dire. Those patients who received hospice care for more than 3-days were reported to have had higher quality care than those who began hospice less than 3-days before dying. 

Those receiving hospice care for more than 3-days also had family report that they died in their preferred location at an overwhelming rate. 73-percent of families agreed that their loved one died where they preferred when receiving hospice care. Compare that to only 40-percent saying the same when a patient did not receive hospice care. 

In a related study conducted at the University of Washington, only one in five family members said that care was consistent with wishes for their loved one in the ICU. 

Medical professionals agree that "patients who have access to hospice care have a better quality of death and a more peaceful death than patients in hospitals." This can be attributed to hospice's efforts to consider patients' values and goals when recommending treatment options, and the added layer of support for their families. 

In many cases, however, the primary reason that hospice care is considered a better alternative to hospital care is because of the option for most hospice patients to receive treatments in their own home, and die in their own home. 

Allowing patients to experience a poor quality of death has been deemed unacceptable by many medical professionals. 

To learn more about how hospice benefits patients and their families, don't wait. Contact us at Cura-HPC today and make plans for your end of life care. 

Recent Studies Reveal Doctors' Own End Of Life Treatment Choices

Posted on Jan 21, 2016

Senior doctor

A pair of recent studies seem to suggest that doctors and other medical professionals make different end of life choices than many of their patients. This is significant because it may also suggest that more education is needed to inform patients about the positives and negatives of care options, particularly the difficulties involved in aggressive treatments with small success rates. If those with the best understanding of medicine are choosing less aggressive care at the end of their life, they may be doing so because they better understand their circumstances. 

The first study concluded that doctors facing the end of their lives were less likely to choose aggressive treatments like surgery, or be treated in an intensive care unit. It also found that doctors were less likely to die in a hospital than the general public, which suggests they may recognize when these aggressive treatments have done all they can soon than a typical individual. 

To reach this conclusion, Medicare beneficiaries in Massachusetts, Michigan, Utah and Vermont were studied. Each was over the age of 66 and died between 2004 and 2011. They recorded each patient's choices over the last 6-months of their lives and measured the intensity of their care by tracking five care options: surgery, hospice care, ICU admissions, death in the hospital, and total cost of care. 

The results found that doctors were less likely to choose many of the more aggressive care options in their final 6-months of life than the general population. They were less likely to die in a hospital, less likely to undergo surgery and less likely to be admitted to the ICU. Each difference only accounted for a few percentage points, but were statistically significant. 

The second study involved the same research team and compared the location of death for physicians with that of other medical professionals, individuals with higher education, and the general population. 

Of each of these four groups, doctors were found to be the least likely to die in any type of care facility. When specifically looking at hospital deaths, the general population was found to be more likely to die there than any of the other groups. 

Across the board, researchers found that those who were most familiar with medical treatments, and those with better education, were more likely to choose less aggressive treatments for the end of their life. 

While more research is needed before any far-reaching conclusions can be drawn from studies like these, these findings underscore the importance of education about end of life treatment options. It's important to begin research well ahead of need. 

To learn more about the benefits of hospice and palliative care, including who is eligible for care, contact us at Cura-HPC by calling 800-797-3839. 

4 Signs Your Loved One Needs Extra Assistance At Home

Posted on Jan 12, 2016

Elderly woman and loved one

Hospice care is designed for patients with life-limiting illnesses. In many cases, it allows these patients to avoid prolonged hospital stays and spend their final months comfortably in their own home. Depending on their situation, they may even be able to remain largely independent. Situations for patients with serious illnesses, and elderly adults, can change quickly, however. It's important for families and care givers to be mindful of warning signs that might suggest extra help around the house is needed. Here are a few of those warning signs. 

Mail piling up

When day to day tasks become more difficult, many individuals begin ignoring daily chores, or just forgetting about them completely. That could mean that mail goes unchecked and left in the mailbox for weeks at a time, or that mail piles up unopened. Similarly, bills may go unpaid and past the due dates, which can lead to water or power being turned off, or possibly evictions. You can also watch for signs of cognitive decline if a loved one struggles with reading or understanding mail, for example, being unable to identify clear junk mail. 

Untidy house

Some people keep a cleaner house than others, so the fact that a home is cluttered doesn't necessarily mean anything. When there's a sudden change in the cleaning habits of an individual, however, it could signal a problem. If you notice that a usually clean individual has stopped vacuuming, or has allowed clutter to accumulate, it could be a sign that they need help around the house keeping up with chores. You may also notice a reluctance to get rid of items, or even to take out trash. All of these should be considered warning signs. 

Refrigerator change

Another area to keep an eye on is the refrigerator. If mobility is limited, making trips to the grocery store can be a daunting task. That often leads to a lack of food in the fridge, and expired food items remaining in the house. It's vital that you keep an eye out for a lack of fresh food because that also signals that your loved one may not be eating enough. Watching their refrigerator allows you to take action before weight loss becomes apparent and dangerous. 

Memory lapses

Being easily distracted or showing short-term memory lapses can be a sign of cognitive decline. There are a number of things around the house that could help you identify this issue. Forgetting to take medication is perhaps the most serious. Help your loved one organize their medication into pill boxes so you can both easily tell when medication hasn't been taken. You can also look for signs of household accidents, like allowing food to burn by forgetting pots on the stove. If it's an isolated incident, it could mean nothing, but if it happens repeatedly, it could be a warning sign. 

Additionally, always be aware of signs of depression in adults who live alone. Even if there are no other issues present, depression can be debiliatating and, as we age, our risk increases. Signs of depression could include phone calls at odd hours, a reluctance to leave the house, odd sleeping patterns or a loss of interest in their favorite activities. 

If you think hospice care could benefit you or a loved one, we at Cura-HPC invite you to contact us to learn more. For answers to your questions about hospice and treatment options, call us at 800-797-3839. 

6 Home Safety Precautions For Independent Seniors

Posted on Jan 07, 2016

Hand rail on bathtub

Being able to live in your own home is a privilege many individuals lose as they get older. Safety concerns, decreased mobility, illness or decreased cognitive function causes many seniors to be forced into hospitals or nursing facilities. At Cura HPC, we work to help our patients stay in their home whenever possible while receiving hospice care. Whether your loved one is in need of hospice care, or just in need of some additional safety precautions. here are some areas to check and additions to make in order to make a senior's home safer. 


Proper lighting is important in any home. We need to be able to see well enough to walk through a room with running into or tripping over obstacles. This is especially important for seniors who may have diminished eye sight and balance. Because a fall can be so catastrophic, you should take every precaution possible to prevent one. That means arranging a senior's home so light switches or lamps are close to the entryway of a room. Also, put in nightlights in outlets along the way from the bedroom to the bathroom for those dark, late-night trips. 

Fire safety

Another tip that applies to anyone is making sure there are working smoke detectors throughout the home. For seniors, this could mean helping them test them regularly and replacing batteries each year. This goes for carbon monoxide detectors also. With these warning systems in place, you can move on to fire extinguishers to actually put out small fires. Ideally, these won't need to be used, but it's important that one is available. A fire extinguisher is always necessary in the kitchen, and it's a good idea to keep another extinguisher elsewhere in the home, especially if there's a second story. Help your elderly relative keep these fire extinguishers charged, and make sure they know how to use them and are capable. 


In order to help seniors keep their balance, it's beneficial to install handrails in certain areas of their home. If there are stairs, or even just a few steps, be sure there are sturdy handrails available to help them balance. The bathroom is another area that's essential to have handrails. Put them around the toilet to help seniors stand, by the tub to help them get in and out, and, in larger bathrooms, along the wall in case floors get wet and slippery. This could also make handrails handy in the kitchen where floors could also become slippery. Finally, consider installing a handrail by your loved ones favorite seat. It could be difficult to stand if they sit for too long. 


Rather than adding anything in this case, it's important to check the flooring at a senior's home. Is the carpet, tile or wood floor in good condition? If not, try to identify any areas that could cause a trip and fall. These would include loose boards, loose edges of the carpet, loose tile, or any holes, rips or tears in flooring. This would also be a good time to look around the floor for other objects that could cause problems. You may consider removing any throw rugs, electrical cords, or other obstacles that could easily cause a trip. 

Daily routine

​There are some items in your loved one's home that they'll need easy access to every day. It can be extremely helpful to walk through their daily routine with them and make sure that each of these essentials is easily within reach. That may mean moving some things to lower shelves and cabinets, or even moving items from a room upstairs, to one downstairs. In some cases, you can simply buy a second, duplicate item so it doesn't have to be lugged up and down stairs or all over the house. Hopefully, you can completely eliminate the need for a step-stool or small ladder, but if one is still necessary, make sure it's stable, doesn't wobble and has sturdy ground to sit on. 


Finally, it's important to place phones around a senior's home so they can always reach one in an emergency. Having a cell phone is helpful in many situations, but there's always the possibility that it isn't charged, has been damaged in a fall, or isn't on their person when needed. A good rule of thumb is to always be able to see a phone from anywhere in the house. Even that might not be enough, however. Consider a situation where your elderly relative fell and couldn't get off the floor. They wouldn't be able to reach phones on walls or counters. So, also think about putting phones on lower shelves or even the floor in some rooms in case of emergencies. 

When precautions like these are taken, it becomes safer for seniors to remain independent and living in their own homes. 

If you or a loved one become ill and would like to learn about the benefits of hospice care, contact us at Cura-HPC: (800)797-3839.