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Study says home palliative care extends life for cancer patients

Though it is sometimes necessary to spend time at the hospital, nobody likes to spend more time there than is absolutely necessary. Hospitals are noisy, impersonal and uncomfortable, with almost none of the comforts of home. This is why so many people with a terminal illness express the desire to spend their final weeks at home.

Not only does dying at home usually make the patient feel more comfortable and at peace, it may even extend his or her life. That is the conclusion of a Japanese study of people with terminal cancer.

Researchers examined medical records of nearly 1,600 cancer patients who died in the hospital, and nearly 500 more who passed away at home. According to WebMD, the patients who went home tended to live “considerably longer” than those who stayed at the hospital.

This seems to go against conventional wisdom, in that most people would guess that the advantage of being cared for in the hospital means higher quality care than that received in a home environment. The reason why this assumption is apparently not the case could have to do with the nature of palliative care.

The goal of palliative care is not to cure disease; instead, it is supposed to ease the patient’s symptoms, so that they can feel as comfortable as possible in their final days. Since the goal is comfort rather than cure, it would make sense that putting the patient in a familiar environment with their loved ones would be more beneficial than a lengthy hospital stay.

A terminal illness usually prevents the patient from working, but he or she may not have time to go through the normal Social Security Disability Insurance process. Fortunately, many illnesses and conditions qualify the applicant for an expedited approval process. Speak to an SSD attorney for more information.


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