Some Common Myths of Hospice

Myth #1: Hospice is only for people with cancer.

Any patient who has a terminal diagnosis specified by the attending physician qualifies for hospice service. More than one-half of hospice patients nation-wide have diagnoses other than cancer. Increasingly, hospices are serving families coping with the end-stages of chronic diseases, like emphysema, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular, and neuromuscular diseases.

Myth #2: My loved one will die sooner if placed on hospice.

On average, research shows that when a person receives hospice care they live longer with a better quality of life.  Hospice does not hasten the process of death, but simply allows natural processes to take place while preserving dignity and comfort.

Myth #3: Hospice is only for people who can accept death.

While those affected with a terminal illness struggle to come to terms with death, First Choice hospice meets the family where they are. We welcome inquiries from families who are unsure about their needs and preferences. Hospice staff are readily available to discuss all options and help families facilitate decisions.

Myth #4: Hospice is a place.

Hospice care takes place wherever the need exists - usually the home of the patient. Patients residing in assisted living facilities and even skilled nursing facilities under certain conditions.

Myth #5: Hospice care is all the same.

Even in the same community, hospices may vary especially in the scope of services offered and what supplies, durable medical equipment and medications will be paid for by the hospice.

Myth #6: Hospice care is expensive and I could lose all my possessions.

Most people who use hospice are over 65 an entitled to the Medicare Hospice Benefit. This benefit covers virtually all hospice services and requires little, if any, out-of-pocket costs. This means that there are rarely financial burdens incurred by the family, in sharp contrast to the huge financial expenses at the end of life which my be incurred when hospice is not used.

Myth #7: You can’t keep your own doctor on hospice.

You can elect to stay under the care of your primary care physician if he/she is willing to provide hospice care to you and coordinate regularly with the hospice team.  Generally patients elect to change to the hospice medical director, but either way the physician and hospice team will arrive at a plan of care that is best suited for the patient.

Myth #8: Hospice can only help when family members are available to provide care.

Hospice recognizes that terminally ill people may live alone, or with family members unable to provide care. In these circumstances hospice coordinates community resources to make home care possible or they help find an alternative location where the patient can safely receive care.

Myth #9: Hospice means giving up hope.

Hospice offers hope. When on hospice we recognize how powerful and important hope is as an ever-changing force which continues through out life and especially through the dying process. Hospice offers a gift in its capacity to help families see how much can be shared at the end of life. It is no wonder that many families can look back on the hospice experience with a heart full of gratitude, and the knowledge that everything possible was done to make death a peaceful experience.

Myth #10: Hospice is just for the patient.

When a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the whole family is affected by the news.  There is more to a person than just their medical condition, and hospice considers that the quality of life for the patient and also family members and others who are caregivers, is the highest priority. 

Myth #11: My loved one cannot go on hospice until death is imminent.

A person qualifies for hospice when a physician diagnoses them with a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live, although people often live longer than that.  Hospice does its best work when there is time to care for the emotional needs of the patient and family - a task that requires trust, sensitivity, and time.  Many patients come onto hospice when treatment is no longer an option and yet symptoms have not yet fully developed, giving them time to truly get the most out of hospice and, more importantly, get the most out of the rest of their life.