(888) 618-6489
Toggle Menu
Discovering Hospice:  Myths and Facts

Discovering Hospice: Myths and Facts

Posted on Apr 15, 2024

If a loved one or you are seriously ill, talking about hospice care may feel like giving up. Perhaps you have heard myths such as hospice will end life more quickly or that it’s mainly for people with cancer.  Maybe you’ve heard that hospice care is expensive or needs to be given in a specific place. These are all myths about hospice care. In this blog, you’ll find out what hospice really means, how it’s used, and what it costs. Most importantly, you’ll learn why hospice is about living as fully as possible until the end. We hope you’ll use these facts to discuss hospice with your loved ones and help dispel the myths. It may be the most important talk you never wanted to have.

Hospice can make life longer, not shorter 

When hospice was first suggested to Maria for her father, suffering from dementia, she said no. She thought that hospice would give her father morphine and he would die. But once she better understood what it was, she agreed. Her father has been in hospice for nearly a year. The tender, loving care given by Unity nurse Linda has completely changed her opinion of hospice. Today, Maria feels grateful and “over the moon” about hospice.

A common misunderstanding is that people in hospice get medications to make them die more quickly. The opposite is true – hospice care can add days to patients’ lives, giving them more special time with loved ones. Many studies show hospice patients live longer than patients with the same illnesses who are not in hospice care. The average time in hospice is 92 days1, but many patients live longer than expected because of the wonderful care they receive. The hospice team can then sign them up again for more care.

Wendy, whose mom has been in hospice with dementia for almost a year, shares her perception of hospice and how it changed. “I felt like, at first, when they told us about hospice, I was pushing my mom into the grave. And I’m like, I’m not trying to push her. And my sister said ‘No you just have to understand what hospice is.’ She explained to me that hospice takes care of you and provides comfort during your last days.

As we have seen at Unity, most families would have started hospice sooner. Long-time Unity hospice nurse Linda Corell shared: I can’t remember a patient’s family ever saying ‘we wish we had started hospice later.’ They almost always say they would have started hospice earlier because it did so much for their loved one.”

Hospice is wherever you are

Hospice is not an actual place, but care can be given wherever you are. Patients with a life-threatening illness may receive hospice care in their homes, nursing homes, hospitals, or hospice centers. Most Americans choose home-based hospice, and it’s easy to understand why. Staying in a familiar place with family nearby and getting help from caring professionals feels most comfortable and comforting. Respect for the family’s and patient’s wishes is one of the most liked features of hospice. Here’s what the families of people who were in hospice care said in a Kaiser Family survey: the person’s religious and spiritual beliefs were followed (91%), they died with friends or family there (90%), and their wishes about medical care were followed (77%).2

Hospice can help people with many serious illnesses

Hospice was once thought of as care only for people with cancer. In addition to cancer, consider hospice care for any of the following conditions:

  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia
  • End-stage kidney disease
  • Heart failure
  • Lung Disease

Hospice is covered by medical insurance

During this very hard time for you and your family, it’s good to know that hospice costs very little. Most hospice costs are paid by Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and private insurance plans. More peace of mind can be found in this fact: healthcare costs in the last 12 months of life, when they are usually at their highest, are more than 10% lower for patients in hospice care for six months or longer.3

Hospice services are for the whole patient and family   

Hospice provides much more than just medicine for pain. A hospice team includes doctors, nurses, case managers, certified nursing assistants, social workers, chaplains, grief care counselors, and volunteers. Programs that nurture the body, mind, and spirit may also be offered. Unity offers programs like Music and Memory, Paws for Patients, Massage Therapy, and Hospice for Heroes.

Hospice also helps the entire family cope. The hospice team fully understands what they are going through. A family member wrote to Unity: Your team did a fantastic job, not just for my mom, but our entire family. We cannot thank you enough for getting us all through this time with grace and love.

Hospice is not about giving up; it’s about having no regrets

“Hospice is not us ‘throwing in the towel’ but rather about making the most of what we have while we have it and smoothing a hard physical and emotional transition.”- Dr. Jacob Ark, Urology of St. Louis

When patients receive good hospice care, we believe the family can look back with gratitude, not sadness. This is the opposite of the famous words of poet Dylan Thomas in “Do Not Go Gently into That Good Night.” He wrote, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” With hospice, the patient is surrounded by loved ones and caregivers who help them go as gently as possible into that good night. A family member of a Unity hospice explains how hospice helped their Dad live life in the short time he had left.

“Time and time again, you were there to add to Dad’s relaxation and enjoyment with physical and musical therapy. You helped get the medical equipment and supplies that we needed. Although we wish that Dad was still here, we are grateful that Unity made it possible for him to really live the time he had left. When the end came, dad was able to die without pain or fear, and in the arms of his children.” – Family members of a Unity hospice patient

Still have questions about hospice? See our Hospice Frequently Asked Questions.

For more than 30 years, family-owned Unity Hospice and Palliative Care has provided exceptional care for patients and their families. Please contact us to learn more about how Unity can help your family. We are here for you 24/7.

888-618-6489 info@unity.com

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now