Hospice care provides compassionate treatment and support for terminally ill patients and their families. However, many people do not understand what’s involved, or even how care is provided. That’s natural – most people don’t give much thought to hospice care until it’s needed, and by then it’s often too late to really build a firm understanding.
Unfortunately, many myths have also grown up surrounding hospice care that can make it difficult for patients and their family members to learn the truth. In this post, we’re going to debunk some of those myths and highlight exactly what you need to know to make an informed, accurate decision.
Delving into Hospice Care Myths
M: Hospice is a place in the hospital.
T: Hospice care is a range of services, not a physical location. They can be delivered in the hospital, but it’s more common to deliver them at home where the patient is the most comfortable, and where they’re with family and friends.
M: Hospice is just “throwing in the towel”.
T: Patients receiving hospice care are terminally ill and have either chosen not to pursue more aggressive, painful treatments or have been informed no further treatment is possible. They have opted to live the remainder of their lives as comfortably possible, to be able to say goodbye to their loved ones, and generally enjoy peace and dignity.
M: Hospice care is cold and clinical.
T: Hospice care is warm, supportive, and compassionate. Not only are the caregivers dedicated to supporting the patient, but religious and spiritual elements can be added by bringing in chaplains or other spiritual leaders to provide guidance, teaching, and peace of mind.
M: Hospice care is only for the final few days in a patient’s life.
T: Hospice care can be provided to patients with as much as a six-month life expectancy. There’s a lot to be gained by entering hospice care early, as it can provide terminally ill patients with medication and therapy to reduce pain, improve mobility, and enjoy their remaining time.
M: Hospice care is only for patients with terminal cancer.
T: Many hospice care patients do have cancer. However, it is not limited to that condition alone. Hospice care can be provided to patients with ALS, heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, Alzheimer’s, and much more.
M: Hospice care is too expensive.
T: Hospice care is actually much more affordable than hospital treatments. Most patients on Medicaid and Medicare will also qualify for hospice coverage from the federal government, which covers 100% of all costs related to palliative care during this time of life.
M: Primary care doctors are not part of hospice care.
T: While your primary care doctor does not have to be part of your hospice care plan, they are welcome to participate. Some patients prefer that their primary physician remain responsible for their overall care plan and that the hospice doctor works with their other professionals. Ultimately, almost any arrangement necessary to improve a patient’s outcome is possible here.
M: Hospice patients don’t receive important medications to manage other illnesses.
T: Hospice patients receive all the medications necessary to manage all of their illnesses, including secondary and tertiary illnesses. The only thing not provided during hospice is a curative treatment for the terminal illness. In fact, hospice patients often receive more medication and medical devices to help support the quality of life than patients not in hospice.
M: Family and friends are prevented from seeing patients in hospice.
T: Family and friends are encouraged to spend as much time with the patient as possible. This is often the time when patients can say goodbye, but also for family members to make lasting memories of their loved one. Research shows that family members who go through hospice with a loved one have less anxiety about their own deaths when the time comes.
M: Hospice care means that the medical system has failed the patient.
T: For many people, there simply is no cure. Pursuing aggressive treatment after aggressive treatment can be frustrating, painful, and stressful. For terminally ill patients who have been given six months or less to live, hospice care offers rest and the opportunity to enjoy their remaining time with as little pain as possible, and without the stress of additional treatments.
M: Hospice care is the same thing as euthanasia.
T: Hospice caregivers do not provide euthanasia. Instead, they provide pain management medication and guidance, therapy to improve quality of life, and companionship during a patient’s naturally remaining lifespan.
As you can see, most of the myths that surround hospice care do not have even a kernel of truth. It’s all about providing compassionate care and support during a patient’s final days. Contact us today to learn more about hospice care and its benefits for your loved one.