Hospice: An Underused Resource, Obscured By Misconceptions

Location : Home Office

By Michelle Seitzer, Seniors for Living

Shattering the stigmas & stereotypes…

Think back to when you first heard the word hospice. What came to your mind?

A good number of people think of death and dying, and many think that those events are imminent once hospice enters the room.

It’s one of the most widely held myths about hospice care; that it’s a place you go, or a service you receive, when all other possibilities have been exhausted.

Not true, say the experts at The Hospice Foundation of America (HFA), who define hospice as “something more that can be done for the patient and the family when the illness cannot be cured.” While nothing can be done to cure the disease, hospice signals a transition into a different level of care best fitting those with an incurable illness.

Another myth: hospice care costs more. Wrong! Because most hospice recipients are cared for at home by family, friends, and volunteers (90 percent of services are provided by these caregivers, says HFA), and since pricey technology is not frequently used, costs are well-contained. Often, those who qualify for hospice will find that services can be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance too.

Despite what some may say, you don’t have to change doctors when you sign on for hospice care either. Instead, your physician becomes part of the team working with you and your loved ones to provide the best comfort-oriented care possible.

Despite the misconception of impending death after hospice has been called in, the length of time for receiving hospice services varies greatly. Sometimes, individuals on hospice care are taken off services because their condition improves. Just because you have an incurable illness doesn’t mean you can’t get better, it just means your cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, etc. won’t go away.

Read more about hospice care in America in the NHPCO’s 2010 Facts & Figures report (PDF).

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