Hospice Myths and Facts

Myth: Hospice is only for people in their final days of life.

Fact: Hospice care is for patients who have been given a terminal diagnosis with six months or less to live if the illness runs its natural course. Receiving hospice care doesn't mean that death is imminent. The earlier one receives hospice care, the more opportunity there is to steady your medical condition. While many patients and families wait until the final days of life to contact hospice, it’s available for many months and one can make this time more about living the final days of your life with a comfortable quality than just dying.

Myth: Hospice is a place.

Fact: Hospice goes to wherever the patient is. It's true there are many hospice facilities, but hospice services come to where the patient calls home. Inpatient hospice is also available in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, a veterans care facility, and even the hospital.

Myth: Hospice is only for the elderly.

Fact: Regardless of one’s age, hospice is available to anyone facing a life-limiting illness.

Myth: Hospice care means giving up hope.

Fact: Receiving hospice care does not mean giving up hope. When one is given a terminal diagnosis, they find hospice care allows them to live life as fully as possible until the end. A hospice interdisciplinary team helps patients and their families address topics and concerns and strengthens their connections by resolving past issues making their end of life more peaceful.

Myth: Hospice means nothing else can be done.

Fact: Hospice programs offer modern palliative care to relieve symptoms and improve their quality of life. Patients and caregivers receive individualized care that meets their unique physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Hospice care focuses on caring, not curing, and neither accelerates or lengthens the dying process.

Myth: Hospice means giving up control.

Fact: A hospice care team will sit down with the patient and family to create an integrated care plan to address each patient’s unique requirements. The hospice patient and family is in control.

Myth: Hospice care is only for the patient.

Fact: Hospice is a family-centered concept of care and focuses as much on the grieving family as on the dying patient. Most hospices provide grief services to the community via schools, churches and workplaces. Hospice provides continuous support for up to 13 months with individual counseling, grief support groups, etc. after the loved one’s passing.

Myth: I can't afford hospice care costs.

Fact: Hospice services are covered under Medicare Part A, Medicaid and most private insurances. This benefit covers the hospice teams services, medications, supplies and equipment related to a patient's life-limiting illness. There may be co-pays, co-insurance or a deductible under insurance plans. Hospice staff will work with patients, families, insurance providers and other resources to ensure the patient receives all the benefits available.

Myth: Hospice is only for cancer patients.

Fact: One does not need to have cancer to receive hospice care. More than half of hospice patients nationwide have diagnoses other than cancer. Hospice serves families dealing with the end stages of many chronic diseases, including Alzheimer's, renal disease, HIV/AIDS, pulmonary diseases like COPD and emphysema, cardiovascular and neuromuscular diseases. Hospice is about the prognosis, and not the disease.

Myth: If I enter hospice, I'll have to give up my primary doctor and all treatments.

Fact: The hospice team works closely with your primary doctor or other doctor of choice in developing your care plan. And while hospice does focus on treating symptoms rather than curative medicine, the decision to halt medication is usually left up to the patient. Some patients may decide to stop taking a curative medication if it is causing discomfort.