Hospice Care - The Myths, The Reality

Posted on

Oct 27, 2015

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If you or a loved one were facing a terminal illness, would you know what options are available to you and your family? Many of us may think that we will not face death anytime soon, so the question is irrelevant. In reality, however, nearly half of the U.S. population will be touched each year by the death of a friend, family member or colleague at work.

Every culture, every community has its own set of myths and fears about terminal illness and the dying process. One of the challenges that all hospice caregivers face is to help dispel those myths and reassure patients and families about the realities of effective end-of-life care.

Consider the following myths. By learning the truth, youll become better able to handle the inevitable

Myth #1: Hospice is a place.

Reality: Hospice isnt a place. Its the aggressive treatment of physical and emotional pain and symptoms at the end of life, which also is known as palliative care. Research has shown that more than three-quarters of all Americans, if given the choice, would prefer to die at home, in comfortable and familiar surroundings, accompanied by family and friends. Hospice is designed to respect that desire.

Myth #2: Hospice means giving up on the terminally ill.

Reality: When medical treatments cannot cure a disease, the interdisciplinary team of hospice professionals can do a great deal to control pain, reduce anxiety and provide medical, spiritual and emotional comfort to patients and their families. Our goal is to do everything we can to improve the quality of life for our patients and their loved ones. We work to ease the discomfort, the fears and the high expense that can accompany incurable illness.

Myth #3: Hospice is just for cancer patients.

Reality: Hospice provides care for adult and pediatric patients with a wide range of life-limiting illnesses, including but not limited to cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, liver disease, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimers, Parkinsons and AIDS.

Myth #4: Hospice isnt much more than just hand-holding at the bedside of the terminally ill.

Reality: Hospice actually is much more. It is the aggressive treatment of physical and emotional pain and symptoms. Hospice care is provided by a highly skilled team of palliative care experts, including: a physician, nurses, home health aides, social workers, a chaplain, bereavement specialist and volunteers.

Myth #5: Hospice care is expensive.

Reality: The vast majority of hospice patients, as you might expect, are elderly and, therefore, Medicare beneficiaries. The Medicare Hospice Benefit is all-inclusivecovering 100 percent of the cost of hospice care. There are no deductibles; there are no out-of-pocket expenses to patients or their loved ones. Families dont have to spend themselves into poverty to qualify for hospice coverage. In most states, Medicaid also provides hospice coverage. Most private insurance plans also include a hospice benefit.

Editors Note:

This article was submitted by Maureen Gilligan, General Manager of VITAS Innovative Hospice Care in New Jersey North, (973) 994-4738. You can learn more about hospice care by visiting the VITAS website: www.VITAS.com, or by calling 1-800-93-VITAS.

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