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Top 5 Myths About Hospice Care

Hospice care is for patients with an advanced illness who have been given a prognosis of less than six months to live. Over 1.5 million Americans receive hospice care each year, there are still many myths and misconceptions that keep people from taking advantage of the valuable support hospice provides for both the patient and their family. This post will help dispel some of those myths, and hopefully lead to more people choosing to receive this vital and compassionate level of care.

Myth #1: Hospice care means giving up.

Many people think that choosing hospice is about giving up the will to live. When really, the goal of hospice is to increase the patient’s quality of life and provide emotional support for them and their family, ensuring that the last months, weeks and days are as fulfilling as possible. Hospice provides palliative or supportive care, as well as emotional and spiritual support, specifically tailored to the patient’s needs. Many patients who choose to receive the care and support of hospice services when they become eligible, live longer than originally expected.

Myth #2: Hospice is a place.

Hospice is not an actual place. It’s a form of care that can take place in a variety of settings. Hospice care is often provided in the comfort and safety of the patient’s home, but can also be provided in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, or in dedicated hospice residences.

Myth #3: Hospice care is expensive.

Hospice services are fully covered under Medicare/Medicaid. This includes nursing care as well as medication and equipment related to the patient’s life-limiting diagnosis. Many private insurance companies also cover hospice with no out-of-pocket expenses to the patient. However, medications, deductibles, and co-pays not related to the terminal illness are usually the patient’s responsibility. The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs covers hospice care for veterans.

To qualify for the hospice care benefit, U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid requires that the patient:

  • Is certified by a doctor to be terminally ill and expected to live six months or less
  • Accepts palliative care instead of curative treatment
  • Signs a statement that selects hospice care in place of other Medicare-covered benefits to treat the terminal illness

Myth #4: Hospice and palliative care are the same.

Palliative care provides symptom and pain management for patients with chronic or advanced illness. Palliative care may begin at the time of diagnosis and be provided while the patient pursues curative treatment. In contrast, hospice services include palliative care plus emotional and spiritual support, creative art therapy, and more. Hospice services may only be provided if the patient decides to stop seeking curative treatment for their advanced illness and has a prognosis of less than six months.

Myth #5: Hospice speeds up the process of dying.

The goal of hospice care is to provide patients with the best quality of life possible during their final months, weeks and days. Contrary to the common misconception, studies have shown that patients receiving care and support from a hospice program often live longer than expected.

Ultimately, hospice care is all about comfort care. MJHS aims to help our patients and their families enjoy the time they have together by providing end-of-life care with compassion, dignity, and respect. For more information about MJHS Hospice, please contact us today.

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