Monday, January 27, 2014

Five Myths About Hospice

End-of-life isn't about the dying process. It's about providing comfort and support for patients and families. Hospice and palliative (comfort) care gives patients a chance to live their life to the fullest, pain free in a comfortable setting. Hospice focuses on caring, not curing.

Myth 1: Choosing hospice means I'm giving up hope.

First and foremost, hospice should never be viewed as "giving up." When a cure is no longer possible, Arbor Hospice provides the type of care most people say they want at the end of life - comfort and quality of life. The most common statement made by families who chose Arbor Hospice for their loved one is "we wish we had known about Arbor Hospice sooner."

Myth 2: I want to care for my loved one at home, not in a hospice.

Hospice is not a place, but a philosophy of care. The majority of Arbor Hospice patients receive care in their own home, where they are surrounded by family and familiar settings. Home could be a private home, nursing home or assisted living facility - wherever the person lives and considers home. The Residence of Arbor Hospice is available for individuals who may need additional support or who wish to reside in a residential hospice.

Myth 3: The doctor suggested hospice; that must mean my loved one has a few days left to live.

Hospice care is available to anyone who has a life-threatening or terminal illness and has a prognosis of six months or less if the illness runs its normal course. Hospice should be considered if treatment will no longer cure the disease or the patient is no longer seeking curative treatments. Arbor Hospice will ensure pain and symptoms are managed throughout the end of life journey.

Myth 4: Hospice care is only for the elderly or those diagnosed with cancer.

Hospice programs have developed guidelines to care for anyone, at any age, facing a life-threatening or terminal illness. With Arbor Hospice, individuals at any age have the chance to complete their lives with dignity, in comfort and at peace.

Myth 5: High-quality end-of-life care is expensive.

Hospice is fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurances. If a person does not have coverage through Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance company, Arbor Hospice will work with the person and their family to ensure services can be provided. Regardless of someone's ability to pay, Arbor Hospice believe everyone should have an opportunity for a comfortable and dignified end-of-life journey.

What other hospice myths are you aware of?


  1. I have found that a common area of confusion is the distinction between palliative care and hospice. How are they the same and different?

    1. That's a good question, Dennis. Even many clinicians don't know the difference between hospice and palliative care.

      Palliative care and hospice are not the same. All hospice care is palliative, but not all palliative care is hospice or for the terminally ill. Palliative care and hospice care share the same goals of comfort through pain and symptom management. However, palliative care is available to all patients and their families and is provided at any stage of a serious illness. Palliative care can also be provided with curative treatments. Hospice care is for those with a life expectancy of six months or less, and cannot be provided at the same time as curative treatment.

      Arbor Hospice's palliative care program, Arbor Palliative Care, is for those who have a serious illness who may not be appropriate for hospice care, or are not ready for hospice.

      Does that help answer your question?

  2. Myth #6: Arbor Hospice grief support services are only for families of our patients.
    All of our groups, workshops, and special events are open to the public, as appropriate. Grief support coordinators also connect community members with referrals to private counseling agencies and the like. Finally, we work with hospices throughout the country to connect out-of-town family members with grief support in their area. We truly want anyone who needs grief support, educational materials, or private counseling to have those needs met.

  3. A friend living in California asked me if palliative chemotherapy disqualified one from hospice care. How would you answer this question?

    1. Thank you for your question. In hospice, each patient’s plan of care is different depending upon their particular needs. Many hospices do not have hard and fast rules about palliative treatments but review each patient individually to determine if a specific treatment is important for pain or symptom relief. Arbor Hospice may accept a patient receiving palliative chemotherapy or another palliative treatment if the treatments are providing comfort for the patient, the patient’s life expectancy remains six months or less, the goal of care is no longer curative and the patient's physician is recommending the treatment.