By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – More and more Americans are choosing to spend their last days of life at home.

The number of people dying at home instead of in hospitals has increased dramatically in recent years. Lynn O’Brien, director of Abington Hospital’s Hospice Program, says statistics show that 44-percent of Americans spend their last days in hospice. Many patients could benefit much sooner.

“Unfortunately, it’s very late in the illness, clearly hospice has more work to do in educating the American public and the healthcare providers of how we can be of help in providing more comfort and care during the end stages of illness.”

She says hospice is designed to care for patients during the last months of their illness, not just days, and she says Medicare and many private insurance companies do cover the costs.

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