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Hospice Care Myths and Facts

At Peace Hospice Care dispels common myths about hospice care:

  1. Myth: Hospice is only for patients with cancer.

    Fact: Hospice is for any patient with a terminal illness, which includes cancer, Alzheimer's, cardiac, lung or kidney disease, among others.

  2. Myth: Hospice care is one organization.

    Fact: Hospice is provided by many different hospice agencies. As with all medical facilities and agencies, policies, procedures and the quality of care may differ.

  3. Myth: Hospice is a place.

    Fact: Hospice is a program of care and it is provided wherever the patient lives.

  4. Myth: Hospice is for the last days of life.

    Fact: No one can predict exactly when the end of life will occur. Admitting criteria for hospice includes the physician certifying that a patient has a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less to live, if the disease runs it's normal course. The disease may not run it's normal course and the patient may live longer than six months. The patient may remain on hospice. Hospice care is more effective with pain management and comfort with early involvement.

  5. Myth: Hospice provides euthanasia to patients.

    Fact: The goal of hospice is to provide the patient with quality of life. Hospice does nothing to shorten life, but allows the disease process to take its natural course while providing pain management and comfort measures.

  6. Myth: Hospice lets people starve to death.

    Fact: Food and fluid are always offered. During the dying process, food can actually be more painful rather than enjoyable. Hospice honors the wishes of the patient.

  7. Myth: A patient must sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) to be on hospice.

    Fact: A DNR is not required. Hospice does not take away choices. We have changed our decision from DNR to AND (Allow Natural Death) because that is more what we do in support of the family’s and patient’s wishes. We are here to answer your questions and to help you to understand the choices you have made.

  8. Myth: Patients are put on morphine when death is close.

    Fact: Morphine is often used for pain control, but not always. It depends on the degree of the patient's pain at any given time.

  9. Myth: Morphine can stop a patient's breathing.

    Fact: Morphine is the drug of choice for breathing distress. It makes a patient with breathing difficulties more comfortable. For a patient to stop breathing because of morphine is extremely rare. Hospice starts patients out on small doses and titrates the amount (adjusts the concentration) increased in small, appropriate steps.

  10. Myth: Patients on morphine are too sleepy to function.

    Fact: When morphine is first started it may cause a sedative effect, but usually within 72 hours the patient adjusts and is no longer drowsy. Patients are often more alert because of their pain relief.

  11. Myth: Patients should wait until their pain is bad to take morphine so it will be more effective when it is needed.

    Fact: One of the benefits of morphine is that there is no "ceiling" and it can be adjusted according to the patients needs.

  12. Myth: Patients on morphine become addicted.

    Fact: Morphine is used to control pain. Once the patient's pain is under control they do not desire more opioids, only that, that is necessary to make them comfortable.

  13. Myth: Hospice provides 24-hour-care.

    Fact: Hospice care is intermittent. When 24-hour-care is required, hospice assists the family in finding placement for the patient.

  14. Myth: People who live alone are ineligible for hospice.

    Fact: As long as the patient is safe, he/she may live alone. Once it is no longer safe hospice will assist with finding home assistance or other placement.

  15. Myth: Hospice patients must quit seeing their primary care physician.

    Fact: Your physician may remain the primary physician for you. Our medical director is also available to assist with pain and symptom management.

  16. Myth: A patient can no longer go to the doctor or the hospital if on hospice.

    Fact: One of the advantages of hospice care is that the patient does not have to make frequent trips to the doctor's office. However, on occasion hospitalization may be required for certain situations regarding hospice care or for medical issues that are not related to the hospice diagnosis.

  17. Myth: Hospice changes all the medications when admitted.

    Fact: The medications are reviewed by the medical director with recommendations according to the patients' symptoms and medical needs. The staff and the patients work together to determine what works best for each individual patient.

  18. Myth: When a patient is put on hospice they no longer have hope.

    Fact: While there may not be hope of a cure, hospice helps the patients to have hope as it relates to their terminal illness. Hospice makes the journey easier for both the patient and family.

If you would like to learn more about hospice or At Peace Hospice Care, contact us at 877-444-0330 for a personal consultation or complete our contact form.

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