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California’s elderly increasingly choose to spend final days at home

The proportion of elderly Californians dying at home has jumped sharply over the last two decades, according to new figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The proportion of elderly Californians dying at home has jumped sharply over the last two decades, according to new figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getty Images

Who wants to die in a hospital or nursing home?

The proportion of elderly Californians dying at home has jumped sharply over the last two decades, according to new figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 36 percent of California’s elderly who died last year did so at home, up from less than 25 percent in 1999.

At the same time, the proportion of inpatient deaths at medical facilities and nursing homes has fallen. California seniors are more likely to die at home today than in a nursing home or medical facilities – a new development.

One likely explanation for the trend is the rise of the home health and personal care workers. These aides monitor seniors and help with daily tasks at their homes. Home health aides and personal care aides are among the fastest growing occupations in California.

The proportion of seniors who die at home varies widely in different parts of the state. The highest proportion of deaths at home last year were in Amador, Santa Cruz, Trinity and El Dorado counties. The lowest proportion were in Merced, Modoc, Colusa and Lassen counties.

Phillip Reese is a data specialist at The Bee and teaches at Sacramento State: 916-321-1137.
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