There are many questions and misunderstandings about hospice. Hospice can be an emotionally-charged topic, so knowing and understanding the facts about hospice care can help make conversations and decisions easier.
Below, I address some of the most common myths, or incorrect beliefs, about hospice, and share additional information about why hospice is a wonderful service and resource for families when a loved one has a terminal condition.
MYTH #1: Hospice is only for patients who have given up hope and are close to death.
FACT: Hospice is about living life as fully as possible, and it’s about quality of life. Hospice care shifts the focus of aggressive curative treatments to medical comfort measures, lessening fear and suffering of patients and loved ones by offering peace, comfort, and dignity.
Also, hospice care isn’t just for the final days of a person’s life. Hospice is appropriate for patients who have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less, and are no longer seeking curative treatment. The earlier the hospice care is started, the more benefits the patient AND the family will receive.
It enhances the quality of life for the patient through a customized care plan involving the patient’s doctor, hospice nurses, hospice aides, social workers, spiritual care coordinators, and volunteers.
Hospice is not just for the patient; it’s for the whole family. Bereavement services are provided to a family/care giver for 13 months following the death of a loved one. These services include monthly support groups, mailings, outings, memorial services and more. Social workers are also available for patients and their family/care giver. Hospice is extra support for the family during this time of need.
MYTH #2: Hospice is a place.
FACT: Hospice is provided wherever the patient calls home, including a skilled nursing facility, assisted living, and, in certain cases, an inpatient setting. But most often, hospice services are provided in a patient’s home, where they are surrounded by what is familiar and comfortable.
Also, it is important to know YOU HAVE A CHOICE on which hospice provider cares for your loved one. Hospice is a service—not a building or company.
MYTH #3: Hospice is expensive.
FACT: Hospice is paid 100% by Medicare and Medicaid. The majority of private insurance companies cover hospice as well.
Hospice care can actually HELP save the patient and family thousands of dollars because hospice pays for medications, medical supplies and durable medical equipment related to the diagnosis.
MYTH #4: Hospice is only for people with cancer.
FACT: Hospice care is for any patient with a life limiting illness, regardless of the diagnosis. This could include cancer, heart disease, lung disease like COPD, stroke complications, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney failure and others.
MYTH #5: Hospice uses morphine, which causes the patient to die sooner.
FACT: Hospice physicians sometimes prescribe morphine and other pain medications to keep patients comfortable. These medications do not cause death. No one knows when a person will die. Our job as hospice providers is to make sure that our patients are comfortable and at peace.
In summary, hospice services can be of tremendous benefit to a patient and their family during life’s final journey. For more information about Deaconess VNA Hospice, visit www.deaconess.com/hospice or call 812-425-3561.