If you or a loved one has received a recommendation to enter hospice care, it’s important to know you’re not alone. We know you likely have a million questions running through your mind, and we are here to answer them, starting with “How long does hospice usually last?”

Of course, every patient’s hospice journey is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question “How long does hospice last?” Many people are under the misconception that hospice leads to the immediate demise of their loved one. But, the purpose of hospice is actually to improve a patient’s quality of life — for whatever amount of time they have left. Another misconception is that hospice care is only for a patient’s “final days.” But, in reality, hospice care provides comfort and relief for months. 

People stay in hospice for a significant amount of time. In fact, statistics show that 12-15% of hospice patients live six months or longer in hospice, while 50% pass away within three weeks. Patients who are under age 65 are more likely to survive longer, and those who are admitted to hospice care directly after a long-term hospital stay are 95% more likely to pass away within six months.

It appears that hospice care and outcomes are also strengthening. One report found that the average length of a hospice stay increased 5% in 2018 to 77.9 days. The maximum length of eligibility for hospice stays is six months. But, a notable percentage of patients do end up living beyond six months, at which point they are re-evaluated and are either deemed eligible for further hospice care or they are discharged.

Instead of focusing on how long hospice care lasts, it’s important to focus on all of the benefits that hospice care provides, allowing patients to truly live out their last days, weeks, and months, surrounded by care, comfort, and love.