We thought it would help if we tackled six of the most popular misconceptions in a series of two articles. We’ll highlight the myth and share the facts. We hope you will follow along and share this with family and friends who might be considering hospice care for someone they love.
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 loved one 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 persistent 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.