Patients and families often tell us, “I wish we had called hospice sooner.” Indeed, once people experience hospice, they better understand its focus on comfort and quality of life. Unfortunately, the public holds many misperceptions and even fears about this type of comfort care − which can delay or prevent them from calling us.
Here are some common myths about hospice, followed by the facts.
Facts: Hospice is not a place. It’s a form of high-quality care that focuses on comfort and quality of life near the end of life. Hospice care is provided where the patient is – whether at home, in an assisted-living or nursing-home community, in the hospital, or in a specialized hospice center. Hospice care begins when the physician feels your loved one has about six months to live if their illness follows its normal course.
Hospice addresses your loved one’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs, and those of your close family members or caregivers.
Facts: Hospice does not mean giving up hope. Rather, it can help you and your loved one change what you hope for. Hospice focuses on maximizing quality of life − based on individual choices and preferences − so that your loved one can live as fully as possible for as long as possible.
Hospice can extend your loved one’s life by making them more comfortable and enabling meaningful activities and interactions with family and friends. Many families are grateful for these precious days, weeks, or months, and for the knowledge that their loved one had a more peaceful death.
Facts: Hospice provides periodic visits by caregivers, rather than live-in help, but its staff is available by phone 24/7 for guidance, support, and visits as needed. Hospice typically provides visits by doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, spiritual support counselors, and trained volunteers, based on your loved one’s individual needs. Some hospices, such as Samaritan, also provide the comfort of massage and music therapy as appropriate.
Facts: Hospice is usually covered by insurance. Many hospice patients are over age 65 so they’re entitled to Medicare’s hospice benefit, which pays for hospice costs. In addition, hospice care is covered by Medicaid, the VA, and many commercial insurers. As a result, many families incur no financial burden from hospice.
For more information, please call Samaritan at (800) 229-8183.