There are many misconceptions about hospice care. Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley is happy to debunk a few of these common myths:
Myth #1: Hospice is a place
Fact: Hospice care takes place wherever the need exists, most often in a person’s home. About 70% of hospice care takes place where the person lives. Hospice can also serve patients in Nursing Homes and hospitals.
Myth#2: Hospice is only for the last days of life
Fact: Patients and their families can receive hospice care for 6 months or longer, depending on the course of the illness. Hospice care is most beneficial when utilized early.
Myth #3: Hospice is only for the elderly
Fact: Hospice serves anyone facing a life-limiting illness, regardless of age, including infants and children. Almost 20% of hospice patients are under the age of 65.
Myth #4: Hospice is only for people with cancer.
Fact: More than half of hospice patients nation-wide have a diagnosis other than cancer, including end-stage chronic diseases such as emphysema, COPD, CHF, ALS and even Alzheimer’s.
Myth#5: Hospice care is expensive
Fact: Hospice is a Medicare benefit that covers virtually all hospice services. Hospice of St. Lawrence Valley never turns a patient away due to inability to pay. This means there are no financial burdens incurred by the family in contrast to the huge financial expenses at the end of life which may be incurred when hospice is not used.
Myth #6: Choosing hospice means giving up all medical treatment
Fact: The reality is that hospice places the individual and family at the center of the care-planning process and provides high-quality pain and symptom management.
Myth #7: You can’t keep your own doctor if you choose hospice care
Fact: Hospice physicians and nurses work closely with the patient’s primary care physician to determine an individualized plan of care.
Myth #8: Hospice care starts when someone is close to dying and ends at death
Fact: The focus of hospice care starts at the time of diagnosis or acute phase of the terminal illness and extends beyond the patient’s death to include bereavement care and grief support for the family. Hospice of St. Lawrence Valley is open to anyone in the community to provide grief support, whether the loss is a hospice death or not.
Myth #9: I’m not dying so it’s too early to talk to my family about my end of life wishes.
Fact: It is never too early to let your loved ones know your end-of-life wishes. Having an Advanced Directive, living will or other documentation in place long before it is needed will save you and your family much anxiety and ensure a better quality of care that meets your needs and wishes. Hospice of St. Lawrence Valley provides education on starting this conversation and can assist you in completing advanced care planning forms.
Myth #10: Hospice means giving up and is for when there is no hope.
Fact: Hospice redefines hope and helps patients and their families reclaim the spirit of life. Hospice care focuses on improving the patient’s quality of life, allowing them to make the most of the time they have. When death is in sight, there are 2 options: submit without hope or live life as fully as possible until the very end. The gift of hospice is its capacity to help families see how much can be shared at the end of life through personal and spiritual connections. Family member often look back upon their hospice experience with gratitude and with the knowledge that everything possible was done towards a peaceful death.