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Hospice: The Top 10 Myths

Hospice care isn’t something you encounter every day. And like many unfamiliar things, lots of myths and untruths have sprung up around it. But in reality, hospice care can bring incredible comfort, joy, and peace to many patients and families. So let’s get to the bottom of some of those falsehoods to give you the truth about your options…

Myth #1: Hospice only helps when you’re on death’s door and there is no hope.

Truth: Many patients and families tell us hospice was such a helpful, positive experience, they wish they’d called us much sooner! Hospice provides specialized medical care that maximizes your quality of life and makes your wishes a priority. It is designed for people with a prognosis of 6 months or less as long as the disease runs its natural course.

Myth #2: Hospice is a place.

Truth: Hospice is a service that you can receive wherever you’re living: in your home or your family member’s home, in a skilled nursing facility, in a group residence, in a hospice center, or even in the hospital.

Myth #3: Hospice is only for people with cancer.

Truth: Hospice has been evolved to care for patients with any type of terminal illness.

Myth #4: Hospice stops all of your medications.

Truth: Hospice care provides pain and symptom management alongside spiritual, emotional, and social support. People often consider hospice care because their treatment plans have lost their effectiveness, the burden of any given curative treatment outweighs the benefits in light of the prognosis, or hospice care can better help the patient meet their personal goals.

Myth #5: You have to stop seeing your own primary care provider when you’re on hospice care.

Truth: We encourage you to continue seeing your own primary care provider while in hospice care. The interdisciplinary hospice team provides additional supports and visits while working in partnership with your own doctor.

Myth #6: Morphine and other comfort medications hasten death.

Truth: Morphine and other comfort medications do not hasten death. It is a reasonable drug to use to relieve increasing pain from the disease process when over-the-counter medications are no longer effective. As the disease progresses, higher doses are sometimes necessary to eliminate pain and/or respiratory distress. While comfort medications can aid in a more comfortable death, it does not result in a quicker one.

Myth #7: Going to the Delaware Hospice Center means you’re going to die.

Truth: Although we strive to help patients remain in their homes whenever possible, there are times when symptoms can be better managed with a short-term stay at our The Delaware Hospice Center or another in-patient unit. If symptoms improve, patients can return home to receive hospice services there without ever leaving our continuum of care. An in-patient unit also offers caregivers a break from caregiving and housekeeping duties.

Myth #8: Only a medical professional can make a referral to hospice.

Truth: Any one can call us to learn more about hospice care for a loved one. We’ll meet with you to discuss your options of care. Then, with your consent, we’ll reach out to your doctor about your medical records and to establish a partnership regarding your individualized care.

Myth #9: Hospice costs too much.

Truth: Medicare Part A, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans cover hospice care. As long as you meet your insurer’s criteria for hospice care, you’re covered for services. In addition, Delaware Hospice never denies a patient care for financial reasons.

Myth #10: Hospice only benefits the patient.

Truth: Hospice provides a support system for the patient’s entire circle of family and friends. We work with you and your family to coordinate all of the resources you need, including prescriptions, equipment, and supplies so you can focus on your time with each other instead of stressful details. We also provide family members with the knowledge, know-how, and emotional support that take the anxiety and uncertainty out of their caregiving roles, including volunteer help, respite care, and the peace of mind knowing we’re just a phone call away 24/7. In addition, we facilitate difficult discussions about Advance Care Planning and support family and friends—including children—with bereavement counseling.

Would you like more information about hospice care and what it can do for you or your loved one? Visit delawarehopsice.org or call 800.838.9800 to learn more.

If you would like to speak to someone personally about your situation or get information about Delaware Hospice support services, we encourage you to schedule your personal, no obligation, confidential, in-home visit.

Call 800.838.9800 for more information.

Serving the entire state of Delaware, Southern Chester, and Delaware Counties in Pennsylvania.