When you hear the word hospice, what is your first thought? Before my family needed the services hospice offers, I thought it was a service offered in a hospital setting. It was recommended for my mother, and we were given the option to keep her at home, which made her feel more comfortable being in her own surroundings.
Many people have the wrong idea about hospice care. Hospice helps people with a life-limiting illness focus on living as fully as possible for as long as possible.
The hospice philosophy focuses on providing comfort and compassionate care not only to the patient, but also their loved ones by meeting their physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs. Hospice is not a place; it is a service and a philosophy of care recognizing death as the final stage of life.
Here are some hospice myths and realities that may help if you or a loved one is trying to decide whether hospice is the best option for you.
Myth: Hospice means that the patient will soon die.
Reality: Receiving hospice care does not mean giving up hope or that death is imminent. The earlier an individual receives hospice care, the more opportunity there is to stabilize a patient’s medical condition and address other needs.
Myth: Hospice is only for cancer patients.
Reality: A large number of hospice patients have congestive heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, chronic lung disease, or other conditions.
Myth: Patients can only receive hospice care for a limited amount of time.
Reality: The Medicare benefit, Medicaid and most private insurances, pay for hospice care as long as the patient continues to meet the necessary criteria. Patients may come off hospice care, and re-enroll in hospice care, as needed.
Myth: Hospice provides 24-hour care.
Reality: The hospice team (which includes nurses, social workers, home health aides, volunteers, chaplains, and bereavement counselors) visits patients intermittently, and is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week for support and care.
Myth: All hospice programs are the same.
Reality: All licensed hospice programs must provide certain services, but the range of support services and programs may differ. In addition, hospice programs and operating styles may vary from state to state depending on state laws and regulations. Like other medical care providers, business models differ. Some programs are not-for-profit and some hospices are for-profit.
Myth: Hospice is just for the patient.
Reality: Hospice focuses on comfort, dignity, and emotional support. The quality of life for the patient, and also family members and others, who are caregivers, is the highest priority.
Research has shown people receiving hospice care can live longer than similar patients who do not opt for hospice. If this information about hospice surprises you, take the time to find out more by calling one of our hospice specialists at Hospice Services at Methodist ElderCare at 614-705-0840.