“Hospice” is a word that can strike fear or provide a feeling of peace, depending on the individual. For those who don’t fully understand what hospice care is and what it provides, they tend to fall into the former category rather than the latter. I want to dispel the misconceptions and the common myths about hospice. This speciality end-of-life care focuses on comfort and celebrating life, because every day is a gift.
Myth #1: Hospice is a place.
Hospice care often takes place in the home or in a place that is currently home, such as an assisted living community, skilled nursing facility or long-term care center. There are, however, hospice care centers around the country such as Hospice of Southwest Ohio’s Patient Care Center in Cincinnati.
Myth #2: Hospice is expensive.
Hospice relieves the burden of medical bills because it’s affordable. Once a patient chooses hospice care, almost all bills related to the care of the patient’s terminal illness diagnosis are paid for by their health insurance, except for room and board at a long-term care facility. Medicare is the largest insurer of medical care provided at the end of life, but hospice care also is covered by Medicaid, the Veterans Administration (VA) and private medical insurance.
Myth #3: Hospice means death is imminent.
Hospice patients are those who have been diagnosed by a doctor as having six months or less left to live, but hospice is not a death sentence. In fact, it can add life back to your days. Patients can outlive their projected life expectancy and continue receiving hospice care.
H3: Myth #4: Hospice is painful.
Hospice care provides comfort rather than a cure. It decreases anxiety and stress levels and gives access to a dedicated care team 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It provides a way for patients to experience a pain-free death.
Myth #5: Hospice can’t be received at home.
The truth is that most hospice care is provided in the home, rather than in a hospice care center or another healthcare facility.
Myth #6: Hospice can’t be received for a long period of time.
Hospice care is typically reserved for the last six months of life, but it can extend beyond that timeframe. If patients outlive their projected life expectancy, they can continue receiving hospice care when the illness they’re facing is deemed life-limiting.
Myth #7: Hospice and palliative care are the same thing.
The terms “palliative care” and “hospice care” are often used interchangeably but they are not the same. Hospice is only one type of palliative care that can be utilized in the last six months of life. Traditionally, palliative care can be utilized anytime during the course of a debilitating disease or serious illness and, ideally, should begin at the time of diagnosis.
Myth #8: Hospice shortens life expectancy.
The primary objective of hospice care is to relieve the physical, emotional, social and spiritual suffering that often accompanies a chronic or terminal illness. When a cure can no longer be pursued, hospice allows patients to shift their focus to living out their remaining days peacefully and comfortably. Therefore, instead of using their energy to fight pain and discomfort, patients can use that energy doing things that improve the quality of their lives.
Myth #9: Hospice is giving up.
Hospice provides effective pain management and relief, restoring dignity and control for those who are suffering from a terminal illness. It respects the wishes of patients during their final days and offers support to family members and loved ones.
Myth #10: All hospice providers are the same.
None of us have a choice when it comes to death, but everyone should have a choice about the care they receive at the end of life’s journey. A patient is typically referred to hospice care by their primary care physician or a caseworker within a hospital setting. Hospice care is meant to provide the best care for terminally ill patients but not all hospice providers are created equal.
Find out more about Hospice of Southwest Ohio
Hospice of Southwest Ohio is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life during final months and days. Rather than viewing hospice as scary or troubling, it can be viewed as a natural way for patients to pass away with dignity and the loving support of family, friends and an interdisciplinary care team that helps them experience a peaceful and pain-free death.
I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about end-of-life care. Hospice of Southwest Ohio offers hospice, palliative and in-home primary care in and around the greater Cincinnati area in Clermont County, Butler County, Warren County and Hamilton County. Call today at (513) 770-0820.