The word “hospice” scares a lot of people. It conjures up images of grimy, gaseous medical wings devoid of hope or fresh linens. But hospices aren’t nearly as dire as you might think. The primary purpose is to focus on providing comfort and dignity as opposed to life-saving treatments. If you'd like to learn more, check out our article What You Need To Know About Hospice Care. For now, we'd like to quickly clear up a few common myths surrounding this type of care:
Misconception: Hospices Are Only For People With Days Left
Reality: There’s a widespread misconception that hospices are where you go to die. That’s just not true. As the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization explains, hospice care is designed to help patients with a “life-limiting illness focus on living as fully as possible for as long as possible.” Generally, you will be admitted if your prognosis is six months or less, but some hospice patients have even more time left.
Misconception: It Only Takes Place In Hospitals
Reality: Hospice care doesn't refer to a specific location but should take place in a setting that best suits the needs of the patient and caregivers. You can technically receive it anywhere, from an assisted living facility to a medical institution to your own home, which is usually what most prefer. According to WVCaring.org, when a patient opts for home hospice, "every effort is made to keep a patient at home and pain-free" unless a situation arises that requires urgent care. But it all depends on your situation and what you and your doctor decide.
Misconception: Only Old People Use It
Reality: Yes, many hospice patients are elderly, but people of all ages (even kids from pediatrics) rely on its services.
Misconception: You Can’t Keep Your Doctor
Reality: Your referring physician doesn’t disappear just because you’re receiving different care. He or she can still stay onboard as part of your medical team. You’ll just get an additional hospice doctor who's on-call all day and night.
Misconception: Families Are Expected To Sit By The Bed 24/7
Reality: Hospice isn't the same as standard hospital stay. If your loved one requires hospice care, you shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving to go to work or pick up your kids. While writing about hospice care for The Huffington Post, specialist David Kessler puts it bluntly: “Obligations don’t cease. We still have our bills to pay. No one gives us free rent because our loved one is in hospice… [you] need to take breaks. Breaks are healthy.”
Misconception: Once You’re Enrolled, There's No Getting Out Or Going Back
Reality: You’re not locked up for life once you start hospice care. You can stop it at any time for any reason -- even if your condition has not improved. Hospice is designed to provide maximum comfort, so if you don’t feel comfortable with it, the doctors and nurses will understand.