Commonly Held Misconceptions about Hospice Care
Hospice is vastly misunderstood. Below are some of the myths enlightened by the facts.
Myth: Hospice means giving up hope and is a service to help people die.
Fact: Hospice care is about living life to its fullest, even in the event of a life-limiting illness. Care Initiatives Hospice helps patients and families set their own goals and priorities to enhance quality of life to the highest degree possible.
Myth: Hospice is a place.
Fact: Hospice care is a service that brings physical, emotional and spiritual care and support to wherever a patient calls home. “Home” may be a personal residence, a nursing home, a hospital or another assisted living type facility.
Myth: Hospice is only for people with incurable cancer.
Fact: Hospice care is for anyone suffering from a life-limiting illness (heart disease, lung disease, dementia or, what we used to call old age, general debility). Care Initiatives Hospice has expertise in all of these diseases as a patient approaches the last months of life.
Myth: Patients give up their own doctor.
Fact: Patients retain their personal physicians who continue to guide care. Care Initiatives Hospice works closely with physicians to carry out an agreed upon plan of care.
Myth: All hospices are the same and it doesn’t really matter which service a patient and family choose.
Fact: Hospices differ in level of expertise, philosophies of care and available support services. For example, Care Initiatives Hospice patients often receive additional services such as massage therapy, music therapy or other complimentary services that enhance quality of life. Care Initiatives Hospice is a not-for-profit organization.
Myth: Hospice care is only for the last days of life.
Fact: Many patients wait far too long to consider hospice care. Hospice patients often continue a very active lifestyle when services promote pain and symptom control. Family members almost always indicate a desire to have considered hospice services earlier. If in doubt, call. Care Initiatives Hospice can offer evaluations and assessments to help you decide.
Myth: Physicians will bring up hospice care and order it when it’s the right time.
Fact: Physicians are very caring people who may wait for the patient to indicate a desire to consider options. Anyone can call Care Initiatives Hospice to consider services. The physician will be contacted for assessment and agreement.
Myth: Patients give up their “routine” healthcare benefits when choosing hospice and are not free to change their minds.
Fact: Hospice patients choose a comfort care approach to services, but are free to continue using health benefits for problems not related to their life-limiting illness. Also, patients may choose to depart from hospice care at any time.
Myth: Hospice hastens death.
Fact: Hospice care seeks to promote quality of life while neither hastening death nor prolonging life. Care Initiatives Hospice focuses on comfort and quality of life without regard to length of time. Recent studies conclude that patients receiving hospice care are more likely to live happier and longer lives than those that do not choose hospice care.
Myth: Hospice is for people who don’t need highly intensive or technical care.
Fact: Hospice care is serious medicine. Advancements are extremely complex. Care Initiatives Hospice employs specially trained staff to ensure state-of-the-art pain and symptom control.
Myth: Hospice means giving up medical treatments, medications and sometimes even food or water to patients.
Fact: Hospice care often includes medications and therapies such as strong-acting drugs, radiation therapy and even surgical procedures. The goal of any intervention is to bring dignity and quality of life.
Myth: Hospice “dopes people up” so they become addicted or sleep all the time.
Fact: Patients with a physical need for pain medication do not become addicted. Care Initiatives Hospice staff have the expertise to know which medications and how much medication makes a patient comfortable, yet alert and able to enjoy each day.
Myth: Hospice patients can only receive care for a limited amount of time.
Fact: Medicare and most health insurance plans pay for hospice care as long as a patient continues to meet certain criteria. That criteria usually includes the physician’s opinion that life expectancy is likely 6 months or less. Patients may come on and off of their hospice benefit, re-enrolling at times, as needed.