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Dispelling Common Hospice Care Myths

Hospice care is comprehensive care focused on allowing patients and their families to live a full life no matter how much time they have left. According to NARMC Hospice Director Thomas Pepler, more than two million Americans have been served by hospice providers across the nation, yet there is still so much to learn about hospice care.

Myth: Hospice is where you go when there is nothing more a doctor can do.

Fact: Hospice is not a place, but a philosophy of care providing medical, emotional and spiritual care focusing on comfort and quality of life.

Myth: Hospice is only for the last days of life.

Fact: Hospice patients and families can receive care for six months or longer, depending on the course of the illness. Hospice care is most beneficial when there is sufficient time to manage symptoms and establish a trusting relationship.

Myth: Choosing hospice means giving up hope.

Fact: Hospice provides comfort and quality of life when the hope for cure is no longer possible. The hope for living each day to the fullest becomes the focus. When faced with a terminal illness, many patients and family members tend to dwell on the imminent loss of life rather than making the most of the life that remains. Hospice helps patients reclaim the spirit of life. It helps them understand that even though death can lead to sadness, anger and pain, it can also lead to opportunities for reminiscence, laughter, reunion and hope.

Myth: Good care at end of life is very expensive.

Fact: Those covered by Medicare, Medicaid or military may pay little or nothing for hospice care. Most insurance plans, HMOs and managed care plans include hospice coverage. Hospice of the Hills has programs to care for uninsured patients.

Myth: You can’t keep your own doctor if you enter hospice.

Fact: Hospice physicians work closely with your doctor to determine a plan of care.

Myth: Choosing hospice means giving up all medical treatment.

Fact: The reality is that hospice places the patient and family at the center of the care-planning process and provides high-quality pain management and symptom control.

Myth: Hospice only cares for patients in their homes.

Fact: Most patients choose to spend their last days at home surrounded by their loved ones. However, Hospice of the Hills cares for patients wherever they call home, including long-term skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.

Myth: Hospice is just for the elderly.

Fact: Hospice serves anyone facing a life-limiting illness, regardless of age.

Myth: Families are not able to care for people with terminal illnesses.

Fact: Hospice involves families and offers professional support and training to help family members participate in the care of their loved ones.

Myth: Hospice care starts when someone is close to dying and ends at death.

Fact: The focus of hospice palliative care starts at the time of diagnosis or acute phase of the terminal illness and extends beyond the patient's death to the family during bereavement.

Myth: Hospice is only for cancer patients. Fact: A large number of hospice patients have congestive heart failure, Alzheimer's disease or dementia, chronic lung disease or other terminal conditions.

Myth: Patients can only receive hospice care for a limited amount of time. Fact: Medicare benefits and most private insurance pay for hospice care as long as the patient continues to meets the necessary criteria. Patients may come in and out of hospice care and re-enroll in hospice care, as needed.

Myth: Hospice provides 24-hour care. Fact: The hospice team visits patients intermittently and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for support and care.

Myth: Hospice is just for the patient. Fact: Hospice focuses on comfort, dignity and emotional support. The quality of life for the patient, as well as family members and others who are caregivers, is the highest priority.

Myth: To be eligible for hospice care, a patient must already be bedridden. Fact: Hospice care is appropriate at the time of the terminal prognosis, regardless of the patient's physical condition. Many of the patients served through hospice continue to lead productive and rewarding lives. Together, the patient, family and physician determine when and how hospice services should begin.

Myth: Once a patient elects hospice care, he or she cannot return to traditional medical treatment. Fact: Patients always have the right to reinstate traditional care at any time, for any reason. If a patient's condition improves or the disease goes into remission, he or she can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive, curative measures, if so desired. If a discharged patient wants to return to hospice care, Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance companies and HMOs will allow readmission.

Myth: Hospice pays for all your medications.

Fact: Hospice only pays for medication related to the terminal illness for pain and symptom management to keep the patient comfortable.

Myth: You cannot be on hospice unless you are a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) patient.

Fact: Hospice of the Hills does require a DNR for admission to the Hospice House. While a DNR is not required for those patients receiving hospice care in their designated residence, it is recommended.

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No information or content on this website is to be taken as implicit or explicit advice. Please contact a medical professional for guidance.

Photos on this website are provided by Vowell Publishing, Inc. and NARMC.

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