“We all want to die well,” hospice care makes in-home deaths possible

When Jeanne Harsha’s mom transitioned into a memory care facility, she, with family surrounding her daily, was the exception. During Harsha’s visits, she was taken with the number of residents who never had visitors at all.

Some residents practically adopted Harsha’s grandson as their own, introducing him to their pets and holding his hand.

“There were so many people that didn’t have anyone seeing them, you know, and I felt so bad for these ladies…It was like we were becoming their family,” Harsha said.

It’s the reason Harsha, 68, has been volunteering her time for five years to sit with people in hospice. Volunteers work to fulfill last wishes and provide companionship to those in their final months of life. Harsha has made birthday cakes, learned to crochet, played cards and listened to many, many stories.

Now, passing in one’s own home is the preferable way to go for most Americans, according to one study. And for the first time in modern history, home deaths have surpassed hospital deaths.

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From 2003 to 2017, hospital deaths decreased 9.9% and home deaths increased 6.9%. Overall, 29.8% of deaths occurred in the hospital and

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