We thought it would be helpful if we tackled six of the most popular misconceptions about hospice care in a series of two articles. In both articles, we highlight the myths about hospice care and share the facts.
Myth #1: Hospice is for the Final Week or Two of Life
Families of a loved one with a life-limiting diagnosis often think accepting the care and support of hospice means they are giving up and accepting that their family member only has a few days left to live. The reality is that the Medicare hospice benefit offers patients six full months of services. The sooner a patient receives care, the more time the hospice partner has to get to know them and their family. That can help them support the whole family’s emotional, physical and spiritual needs each step along the journey.
Myth #2: Hospice Gives People Too Much Medication
Another myth is that if your loved one accepts hospice care, they will be overmedicated and unable to enjoy their last days and weeks with their family. Hospice actually does just the opposite. Using a variety of alternative therapies such as massage and music, the hospice team tries to find holistic ways to manage each patient’s pain and symptoms whenever possible. What family members sometimes see as a patient being overmedicated is really the disease taking its natural course. The spiritual care team and social workers can help educate families, so they can recognize the difference.
Myth #3: Hospice is only for cancer patients.
Many people associate hospice with cancer patients. While it is true that many people living with cancer receive the support of hospice, care isn’t just limited to those with cancer. Hospice can serve anyone who has been told by their physician that their life expectancy is six months or less if their disease follows its typical course. The patient might be living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or end-stage kidney disease. Hospice care is for everyone. With diseases like Alzheimer’s, clinicians sometimes struggle to make a determination about where the patient is in the disease process. That is where an experienced hospice clinician can help.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid has a guide that explains the Medicare Hospice Benefits in greater detail. Learn more about our hospice program. To view the second article with more myths to uncover, it is available here.