When a loved one in your family is chronically ill, you of course do everything you possibly can to cure them and restore them to full health. But when it becomes apparent that your loved one is suffering needlessly and that there’s nothing modern medicine can do to keep them in this world, it may be time to seek hospice and palliative care instead.
It can be difficult to know when to begin hospice care, but a recent study confirms that most people delay hospice far too long, resulting in weeks or months of needless pain and suffering.
According to the expert staff at Peace Hospice in Naperville, IL, one of the main reasons people balk at switching to hospice care, even when it clearly becomes appropriate, is because of common misconceptions about hospice.
We will identify and try to clear up 7 of these common “myths” about hospice care:
Myth #1: Hospice is only for cancer patients.
Although many who have certain forms of cancer receive hospice care, so do those with a host of other terminal conditions, including cardiac disease, respiratory disease, dementia, intense fraily, and more. Hospice is not for just a particular kind of terminal care patient.
Myth #2: No one ever returns from hospice.
Not true. You don’t have to fear you can’t change your mind about hospice versus curative care if your loved one begins to show hopeful signs of improvement – you can. It’s not that uncommon for someone in hospice to stabilize and return to ordinary medical treatment, and the family doesn’t lose their right to make that kind of decision just because someone has entered hospice.
Myth #3: It’s best to wait till the last minute before choosing hospice.
You have to get two doctor’s written opinion that your loved one has only six months of less to live before you can choose hospice. But doctor’s will tell you that families waiting till the last minute to make the decision only tends to make a difficult decision even more difficult.
Myth #4: Hospice can’t be extended beyond 6 months.
While it’s true that hospice care is for those expected to live less than six months, it can be very difficult for doctors to predict these things. If someone in hospice does not recover enough to resume curative care but still needs hospice care, the six months can be extended.
Myth #5: Medicare won’t care hospice care.
Since 1982, hospice has been covered by Medicare. It’s only been in more recent years that people have begun to use this coverage more, which is why some may still not be aware that it exists.
Myth #6: Hospice has to take place at a facility.
Hospice can take place in a variety of locations, not just at a specialized facility. Many people receive hospice care from trained professionals at home or in a nursing home, for example. Where the care will take place will depend on your loved one’s condition and needs and on your and his/her preferences.
Myth #7: Hospice can’t really stop my loved one’s pain and suffering.
Hospice workers are trained to alleviate all manner of physical and emotional pain and suffering in their patients. Severe pain, shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, depression, and more are often greatly reduced or eliminated in hospice. Additionally, hospice care extends to helping the family cope with mental anguish and stress arising from the situation.
Dispelling these common myths about hospice and palliative care can bring greater comfort and clarity to those needing to make a very difficult decision. It can help them to know that at least they have made the right decision and done what was best for their loved one.