Journal of Gerontological Nursing

Feature Article 

Death in the Nursing Home: Resident, Family, and Staff Perspectives

Alison L. Carlson, APRN, MS, NP-C

Abstract

The actual experience of dying in the United States is far different from the expressed desires of most Americans. Although most Americans express a preference for dying at home, 73% of Americans die in medical institutions, with 23% dying in nursing homes (Teno, 2004). In this article, the author examines end-of-life care in the nursing home. A literature review identified more than 100 published articles relevant to end-of-life care in nursing homes. Of these, the author evaluated empirical research studies from the perspectives of residents, family members, and nursing home staff with findings specific to seriously ill nursing home residents. By identifying problematic issues and contributing factors, nurses can modify their practice to improve end-of-life care and substantially reduce suffering for nursing home residents and their families.

Abstract

The actual experience of dying in the United States is far different from the expressed desires of most Americans. Although most Americans express a preference for dying at home, 73% of Americans die in medical institutions, with 23% dying in nursing homes (Teno, 2004). In this article, the author examines end-of-life care in the nursing home. A literature review identified more than 100 published articles relevant to end-of-life care in nursing homes. Of these, the author evaluated empirical research studies from the perspectives of residents, family members, and nursing home staff with findings specific to seriously ill nursing home residents. By identifying problematic issues and contributing factors, nurses can modify their practice to improve end-of-life care and substantially reduce suffering for nursing home residents and their families.

Authors

Ms. Carlson is doctoral student, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

The author wishes to thank Dr. Nancy Sheehan of the University of Connecticut School of Family Studies for support and guidance in the production of this article.

Address correspondence to Alison L. Carlson, APRN, MS, NP-C, 13211 Larchmere Blvd., #D31, Shaker Heights, OH 44120; e-mail: alc53@case.edu.

10.3928/00989134-20070401-05

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