Myths and Reality About Hospice Care

Although hospice services are much better understood and more widely accepted today there are still many misconceptions about our services. Hopefully the facts below will demystify some of these myths and promote a better understanding of hospice care.

Myth: Hospice is where you go when there is nothing more a doctor can do.

Reality: Hospice is not a place but is care an individual may choose when there is nothing that can be done to cure a terminal disease. Hospice believes there is always something that can be done to help individuals live more comfortably and more fully.

Myth: Hospice is only for cancer patients.

Reality: About 60% of hospice patients are admitted with chronic life-limiting illness that is not cancer. These diseases include, but are not limited to: congestive heart failure, COPD and other lung disorders, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, stroke, kidney and liver disease. The hospice team is very skilled at managing symptoms of cancer and equally skilled at managing symptoms of other chronic illness.

Myth: Hospice means giving up hope.

Reality: Hospice may mean redefining hope. Where a patient once hoped for cure they may now hope to be free from pain. Hope looks different in hospice care but it is not lost. The hospice team can help fulfill wishes, accomplish goals and maintain hope.

Myth:  Hospice means giving up all medical treatment.

Reality: Hospice places the patient and family at the center of the care-planning process and provides high-quality pain management and symptom control. Hospice works closely with the primary physician and hospice medical director considering the continuation of the patient-physician relationship to be of highest priority.

Myth: Hospice is only for the last few days.

Reality: The Medicare benefit and most private insurances pay for hospice care as long as the patient continues to meet the criteria necessary. Patients may come on and off hospice care and re-enroll as needed depending on the course of the illness. Hospice care is provided regardless of ability to pay.

Myth: Hospice is only for old people.

Reality: Although the majority of hospice patients are older, hospice serves patients of all ages.

Myth: Hospice means that you have to be a DNR.

Reality: Having a DNR (do not resuscitate order) in place is not a requirement to receive hospice care. Signing a DNR means you do not want to be resuscitated with CPR or other means should your breathing or heart stop. The goal of hospice is to provide comfort with the patient directing care.

Myth: Hospice is only for those patients with private insurance.

Reality: As a non-profit organization, Community Hospice serves everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. Hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance.