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Hospice Myths & Facts

What is hospice care? hospice icon.jpg

Hospice care is a special kind of care that focuses on the quality of life for people and their caregivers who are experiencing an advanced, life-limiting illness. Hospice care provides compassionate care for people in the last phases of incurable disease so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible.

What are the benefits of hospice? 

The hospice team will come up with a special plan just for you and your loved ones. Their focus is on making pain and symptoms better. They check on patients regularly, and they are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A doctor (either your own or one connected with a program) will give medical care. Nurses will also check on you. Aides will assist with things such as bathing, dressing, cleaning, and cooking. 

Other services that are available include:

  • Chaplain and spiritual services for you and your loved ones

  • Social work and counseling for caregiver

  • Medicine to ease pain

  • Medical equipment and supplies

  • Advice on eating

  • Physical and speech therapy

  • Counseling for your loved ones

Who pays for hospice care? 

Original Medicare covers hospice even if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan.

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MYTH  #  1 

Hospice care is for those who only have a few days or weeks to live.

Studies show exactly the opposite. Patients with certain illnesses actually live somewhat longer with hospice care than those with the same illness who don’t choose hospice care. And regardless of the illness, patient/family satisfaction with services received are consistently higher when hospice is involved.

MYTH  #  2

Hospice care can only be given at a hospital or live in facility.

Hospice services are provided in patients' homes, hospitals, assisted living, or nursing homes. Some hospices have their own long-term residential center where they provide hospice care.

MYTH  #  3

All hospice companies are the same.

No!  There are many hospice companies to choose from. Start by asking doctors, nurses, social workers, and friends for reputable companies in your area.   

MYTH  #  4

Once you enter hospice care, you can never go back.  

Deciding when it's time for hospice is difficult and should be discussed with loved ones and a physician.  Potential qualifying factors could include:  

  • The person has 6 months or less to live, according to a physician.  However, an individual can remain on hospice services as long as they continue to decline.  People will often go on and off hospice care through the course of their illness. Talk to your loved one's doctor if you think he/she may qualify for hospice. 

  • The person is rapidly declining despite medical treatment (weight loss, mental status decline, inability to perform activities of daily living like bathing, grooming, eating, etc.).

  • The person is ready to live more comfortably and forego treatments aimed at prolonging life.

MYTH # 5

Hospice care means giving up.

Hospice is medical care toward the goal of comfort and dignity for someone whose life is drawing to a close. It is, in fact, the "something more" for someone who has been told nothing more can be done for them. The ultimate goal of hospice care is to increase the patient's quality of life and provide support for family members and caretakers to ensure that the patient's final days are as comfortable as possible.

MYTH  # 6

Hospice requires a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order.

The purpose and benefit of hospice care is to allow for a peaceful passing in a comfortable and familiar setting like home with loved ones near. While many people wish to have a DNR to avoid unnecessary medical intervention and hospitalization, you are not required to have a DNR to receive hospice care.

MYTH # 7

Palliative care is the same thing as hospice.

Hospice care is a type of palliative care for people who are terminally ill, if the disease runs its normal course. When medical treatments cannot offer a cure, hospice provides care, comfort and support for persons with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

Palliative care, by contrast to hospice, is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness, whether that illness is potentially curable, chronic or life-threatening. Palliative care is appropriate for a much broader group of people than hospice and, unlike hospice, may be provided in conjunction with curative or life-prolonging treatment. Palliative care can begin as soon as the patient is diagnosed and may be given at the same time as treatment.

Both hospice and palliative care offer a personalized plan of care, delivered by an interdisciplinary team, that incorporates what is important to the patient and his or her caregivers in order to achieve the best possible quality of life for patients and families.

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Video Above:  Hospice expert Malinda Rutledge-Carlisle helps us understand the difference between hospice care and palliative care. 

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