When a person is nearing the end of their journey with a disease or chronic condition, it can be difficult for both their professional care team and their loved ones to discuss options and decide the best route for care. However, most families who choose hospice care say that they wish they had started receiving the benefits sooner.

This unique benefit allows patients and families to:

  • Maintain independence and manage their illness or disease
  • Complete important tasks
  • Organize personal affairs
  • Complete spiritual services
  • Create lasting memories with loved ones

This is what many call “the hospice gift.” While care is important at any time during a life-limiting illness, patients and families maximize their benefits the more time they have on service.

Elderly man and wife holding hands

Below are seven ways hospice care is misunderstood, and explanations of what this type of care really is.  

  1. Some may believe choosing hospice means giving up hope.

    The focus of hospice is on quality of life and preservation of hope that the time each individual has left can be experienced in the fullest extent possible with those they love.

  2. Some may fear that suffering is a part of hospice care because traditional medicine is no longer allowed.

    It is quite the opposite. Managing pain and symptoms is one of the key goals in hospice care, because it improves the individual’s quality of life and allows them to find comfort on their final journey.

  3. People may believe hospice is a place.

    Actually, the majority of care is administered in familiar surroundings, such as at home, in nursing home or in an assisted living facility. Wherever a person calls home, they may receive hospice care.

  4. Some think that only a doctor can refer a person for hospice care.

    Anyone can ask about hospice care. Your current healthcare provider can help navigate this process for you. Your physician will be contacted to gain permission for a hospice team member to perform an assessment to determine if hospice is appropriate.

  5. Some fear they will no longer be able to see their family physician.

    On the contrary, the family physician becomes a member of the care team and is regularly informed of each individual’s condition and status.

  6. Many believe they cannot afford hospice care.

    Individuals who have Medicare receive 100% coverage for hospice care if certain conditions are met. Most private insurances now have hospice coverage as well. With Medicare or private insurance, all hospice services, medications, equipment and supplies are provided as related to the terminal illness the person is being treated for.

  7. Some are worried they can only receive hospice care for six months.

The Medicare hospice benefit covers care for as long as the person considered terminally ill has a life expectancy of six months or less. If the person lives longer than six months, but has the same prognosis, their physician can recertify them for services to continue.

If you’d like to learn more about hospice care, or you think your loved one may be eligible for hospice services, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our nurses can help provide information so you can make the best healthcare decisions for your loved one.

By Blair Klayko