Common Myths About Hospice

elderly woman holding someone's hand

Mary T: Your Source for Hospice Facts

Here at Mary T, we want you to be clear on the truth about hospice care. It is important for hospice patients and family members to have a good understanding of what hospice entails.

If you have a loved one with a terminal illness, it’s important to separate the hospice myths from hospice facts. We want to help as many people as we can by discussing the most common myths about hospice care.

With factual information and data about hospice care, you can confidently make the best decision for your family and loved ones.

What Is Hospice Care?

The HFA (Hospice Foundation of America) defines hospice care as medical care designed to assist someone with a terminal illness by helping them live as comfortably for as long as possible.

Loved ones receive hospice care from a team of specialists who assist with the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental needs of end-of-life patients and their families.

Hospice Care Means…

In short, hospice care is intended to improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients. This is accomplished through medications, comfort care, and any other reasonable way to lift the spirits of end-of-life patients.

This extends to family members and caregivers, as well. End-of-life care can be very demanding for those who are providing services. From emotional support to assisted living services, there is a lot that makes up end-stage care.

Dispelling the Rumors

With such a unique and challenging aspect of medical care, myths and rumors are bound to come about. Unfortunately, this can create a stigma and make it difficult for families to confidently choose hospice care.

It is therefore essential to research as much information as you can on hospice care and what it entails. That’s why our specialists here at Mary T compiled a detailed guide to the most common hospice myths.

Hospice care may or may not be the most suitable option for your loved one. But the only way to be sure is to research hospice and end-of-life care and speak with a doctor. So with that, let’s find out what’s real and what isn’t with hospice care.

Myths About Hospice

Many people are under the impression that hospice and palliative care are reserved for patients who no longer want to live. This is completely false – and dangerous.

It’s misinformation like this that could keep a patient from seeking hospice care services, thus depriving them of the comfort they could experience in the final days of their life-limiting illness.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the only myth making the rounds. The following are the nine most common myths associated with hospice care.

Myth 1. You Can Never Leave Hospice Care

Entering into a hospice program does not lock you in for life. While it’s true that hospice care is designed for patients who have six months or less to live, there are many accounts of patients getting better during hospice treatment.

If this happens, a doctor will evaluate the patient and release them from care. Continued follow-up treatment may be necessary, but the patient certainly doesn’t have to stay in hospice.

Myth 2. You Must Sign a DNR

Similar to the first myth, some believe hospice requires the signing of a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). Such an agreement hastens death, and that’s exactly the opposite of what the goal of hospice care is all about.

Hospice providers want to improve the life of patients, even during their dying process. The goal is simply to keep them comfortable. A DNR is absolutely not required.

Myth 3. People Must Have Only Days to Live

On average, people enrolled in hospice care, such as cancer patients, have a limited life expectancy. It’s true that hospice care is typically meant for patients with a few months of life left. But it certainly doesn’t bar a patient with a longer life expectancy. Actually, many patients don’t get to experience the full benefits of hospice care because they put it off for too long due to this common myth.

Remember, hospice care is in place for patients with life-limiting illnesses. It will be up to the patient’s primary care physician or family to determine what kind of care is needed.

Myth 4. You No Longer Have Control of Your Care

Hospice services are designed to improve the quality of life of patients, through efforts like pain management. The plan of care tailored for the patient does not mean the patient must accept it. They have the right to refuse any part of hospice services that don’t agree with or want.

Myth 5. Hospice Care Is Only Available at Hospitals

The patient decides where they receive hospice care. If they feel more comfortable in a nursing home, then that’s what is right for that patient. Hospice means making the patient comfortable. As such, hospice is a place where the patient gets the most benefit, whether at home, in a hospice center, or otherwise.

Myth 6. You Need a Doctor Referral

Anyone can make a referral for hospice care, from the patient to family members. However a doctor does need to send the official order for hospice care.

Myth 7. Only Patients With Cancer Can Get Hospice Care

Cancer patients are certainly included, but so are those with heart disease, lung disease, and more. Again, it depends on the health of the patient and how their illness affects them. If it is terminal, then receiving hospice care makes the most sense.

Myth 8. Hospice and Palliative Care Are the Same

Hospice patients have life-limiting illnesses. Palliative care is generally started once the patient is diagnosed, which may or may not lead to life-limiting conditions.

Myth 9. Hospice Care Is Expensive

Hospice provides its services to patients with private insurance. It is also fully funded by Medicare and Medicaid and is covered by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. As such, you have many options for seeking the care you need.

A family member should reach out to social workers for guidance on this matter. Our health care specialists can also assist you in this.

Contact Mary T for More Information

We encourage you to reach out to us with any questions regarding the care of your loved ones. We will be happy to assist you in any way that we can. If you are a Minnesota Twin Cities resident in the St. Paul or Minneapolis area, call or visit the Mary T Coon Rapids MN for more information.