Article Type: Blog

Learn the Truth About End of Life Care

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Discussions about end of life care can be challenging for families and loved ones, but one way to feel empowered about this stage of life is to be better informed. Here, we talk about some of the common myths and facts about hospice care. 

It’s our hope that this information brings a sense of peace to anyone who is faced with end of life care decisions for themselves or someone they love. 

Myth: 
Hospice is only for people in their last days of life.

Fact: 
Hospice care is for patients who have been given a terminal diagnosis and have less than six months to live, but receiving hospice care doesn't mean that death is imminent. The earlier you receive hospice care, the more opportunity there is to stabilize your medical condition. While some families and patients wait until the final days of life to contact hospice, hospice is available for many months and can make that time more focused around living well with comfort and dignity.

Myth: 
Hospice must be inpatient in a facility.

Fact: 
Although some hospice programs do offer a bricks-and-mortar facility, hospice is actually an approach to care that goes to wherever the patient is. That place can your home or an inpatient hospice in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, a veteran’s care facility or a hospital.

Myth: 
Hospice is only for the elderly.

Fact: 
Hospice is available to anyone facing a life-limiting illness, regardless of age.

Myth: 
Hospice care means giving up hope.

Fact: 
Receiving hospice care does not mean giving up hope. When given a terminal diagnosis, many find that hospice services allow them to live life as fully as possible and maximize their time. The interdisciplinary team offered with hospice helps patients and families address their concerns and strengthen their connections so end of life is as peaceful as possible.

Myth: 
Hospice means nothing else can be done.

Fact: 
Hospice programs offer the latest in palliative care to alleviate symptoms and improve each patient’s quality of life. Patients and his or her caregivers receive individualized care that meets their unique physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Hospice care focuses on caring (not curing) and neither hastens nor prolongs the dying process. 

Myth: 
Hospice means giving up control in your care decisions.

Fact: 
The hospice team will sit down with you and your family to create an integrated care plan to address your unique needs and concerns. The control in almost all instances stays with you and your family.

Myth: 
Hospice care is only for the patient.

Fact: 
Hospice is a family-centered concept of care that focuses on you and your family. In fact, most hospices make their grief services available to the community via schools, churches and the workplace. Following the passing of a loved one, hospice provides continuous support for 13 months with individual counseling, grief support groups, workshops, social groups and educational information.

Myth: 
Hospice care is too expensive.

Fact: 
Hospice services are covered under Medicare Part A, Medicaid and most private insurances. This benefit covers the hospice team’s services, medications, supplies and equipment related to a patient's life-limiting illness. While there may be co-pays, co-insurance or a deductible under insurance plans, hospice staff will work with patients, families, insurance providers and other resources to ensure the patient receives all their available benefits.

Myth: 
Hospice is only offered to patients with terminal cancer.

Fact: 
More than half of hospice patients nationwide have diagnoses other than cancer. Hospice serves families dealing with the end stages of many chronic diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, renal disease, HIV/AIDS, pulmonary diseases like COPD and emphysema, cardiovascular and neuromuscular diseases. Eligibility for hospice dependents on your prognosis, not necessarily your diagnosis. 

Myth: 
If I enter hospice, I'll have to give up my primary doctor and all treatments.

Fact: 
The hospice team will work closely with your primary doctor or other doctor of choice in developing your care plan. And while hospice does focus on treating symptoms rather than curative medicine, the decision to halt medication is usually left up to you. Some patients may decide to stop taking a curative medication if it is causing discomfort or negative side effects.

Hospice care can be an important part of some family’s journey as they experience end of life care for a loved one. For those that want to embrace this challenging life stage with grace, comfort and dignity, it can be a very supportive option. Learn more about our Hospice Care that embraces the whole person — in body, mind and spirit. 

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