If you’ve ever heard anything about hospice care, chances are you’ve come across some myths. From “hospice is giving up on your loved one” to “hospice is only for the very end of life,” understanding the reality of hospice care can be difficult.
This article is here to help. We will take a closer look at the most common myths surrounding hospice care so that you can make educated decisions when it comes to your loved one’s end-of-life care. By debunking these myths, we can provide clarity and peace of mind in an otherwise complicated time.
So, let’s get started busting those myths right now.
Myth: Hospice Is Giving Up
One of the most common and dangerous myths about hospice care is that it’s giving up. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you or a loved one seeks hospice care, it’s about providing comfort and quality of life for whatever time you have left.
The team of caring professionals who provide hospice care is there to make sure that someone at the end of life can do so with dignity and compassion. And while they will help manage pain, they don’t just focus on the physical—mental, emotional, and spiritual care are given as much attention to ensure an overall sense of well-being and peace.
Hospice is not giving up; it’s about making a difficult journey easier. This is why it’s important to have all the facts on hand so that you don’t fall prey to dangerous rumors or myths. Hospice wants to work with individuals who can make informed decisions about their future.
Myth: Hospice Care Is Only for End of Life
It’s a common misunderstanding that hospice care is only for people in the last weeks or days of their life. The truth is, hospice care begins when a patient has a life-limiting illness that has been certified by their doctor to have a prognosis of six months or less. This doesn’t mean that caregivers are going to stop trying to treat the illness, but they will offer palliative care to focus on making the patient as comfortable and well-managed as possible.
Research shows that those who use hospice services live longer than those who don’t. A study conducted in 2015 showed that Medicare patients who enrolled with an inpatient hospice provider lived an average of 29 days longer than those who received standard care at home. So, while it might be true that some people only use hospice for a short time toward the end of life, not all do many get more out of it than simply time management near the end.
Help with Overall Care
Hospice can provide much-needed services such as:
- 24/7 on-call staff and physicians
- Nursing services
- Emotional support for you and your family
- Pain management
- Symptom management
- Social worker services
- Spiritual Care/Grief counseling
Hospice is designed to make life more comfortable for patients, no matter what stage of their diagnosis they’re in—especially when it comes to providing emotional and physical support during difficult times.
Myth: Hospice Only Helps With Physical Symptoms
You may have heard that hospice care only helps with physical symptoms, but that’s a myth people still tend to believe. While it’s true that hospice care can help with these symptoms, it goes beyond just physical care. Not only does hospice seek to improve the quality of life of an individual in the end stages of an illness or condition, but it also helps to provide comfort and emotional support at this difficult time.
The goal of hospice care is to help individuals make the most of the time they have left. This means providing a variety of services aimed at helping patients live as comfortably and as painlessly as possible. Services include:
- Pain management
- Symptom control
- Emotional support for those approaching end-of-life
- Support for family members and loved ones
- Assistance with decision-making about end-of-life issues
By addressing physical and emotional needs alike, hospice can provide a sense of peace and comfort during this difficult time.
Myth: Hospice Care Is Not Affordable
When it comes to hospice care, there’s a misconception that it’s not affordable. But according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), the reality is that “the majority of hospice care is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance—while most families are responsible for only a small co-payment or co-insurance”.
NHPCO also estimates that more than 99 percent of all hospice stays are fully covered by insurance. In addition, Medicare plans typically cover respite care when needed—allowing a family member or friend to take a short break from caregiving. If there are any uncovered costs, some hospices offer sliding fee scales based on what a family can afford to pay.
It’s important to note that you can start and end hospice care whenever you want. So if your financial situation changes, you can stop receiving services at any time during your enrollment period.
So while paying for hospice care may seem like an added burden and expense, with the right information and resources available, you’ll find that most services are covered by insurance—and thus highly affordable for the families who need it most.
Understanding the Truth About Hospice Care
You might be surprised to learn that one of the most common myths about hospice care is that it’s only for people who are near death. That’s simply not true. The truth is that hospice care is available to anyone with a terminal diagnosis and a prognosis of six months or less.
What this means is that, if you have an advanced illness, you can receive comprehensive palliative care and support even if you’re not nearing the end of life yet. Hospice can provide you with physical, emotional, and spiritual support throughout your treatment and help ensure that your needs are met.
Hospice care encompasses more than just medical care—it includes a variety of services to help patients and families manage the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of their illness. Services may include:
- Pain relief medication
- Nutritional therapy
- Medical equipment such as walkers or wheelchairs
- Massage therapy
- Bereavement counseling
- Respite care
In short, hospice isn’t just for those at life’s end—it can provide support for individuals earlier in their journey with a terminal illness as well.
It’s natural to worry about the end of life, but make sure you are doing so with accurate information. Hospice isn’t ‘giving up’ or ‘abandoning hope’ – it’s a way to ensure comfort and dignity in the last phase of life. It’s a service that seeks to provide the best care – medical, emotional, spiritual – to the person who needs it, and to the family and friends.
Hospice care doesn’t take away our choices; it instead, enhances them. Knowing what hospice is, and all that it stands for, is an important step in understanding the myths, and recognizing the truth. Investigate all of your options, and follow your beliefs, so you can have peace of mind. Additionally, be sure to discuss your wish for hospice care with your doctor, family, and other healthcare providers.
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