Dispelling the myths about hospice care
The sad announcement that President Jimmy Carter has entered hospice care presents a fitting time to provide our community with a clearer understanding and correct many of the myths of this valuable service aimed at easing the final months of a family member or loved one facing life’s toughest challenge.
When people think of hospice care, they often think of a place, a medical facility like a hospital where patients are cared for around the clock. The reality is, the goal of hospice care is to allow patients to stay in their homes, surrounded by family and loved ones so they can cherish their final weeks and months with those who are most important to them. The vast majority of hospice patients, 98.2 percent, are actually cared for at home, with in-home nurses, aides, chaplains, social workers and volunteers making scheduled visits and tending to the needs not just of the patient, but their family and friends, who are provided counseling services to help manage and work through the incredibly tough challenge of coping with a loved one who is terminal.
The second myth is that hospice care is only intended for patients’ final hours or days. By definition, hospice care is for any patient who’s identified as terminal within the next six months. Unfortunately, many families wait until the last minute to request hospice care, when their loved one could have been receiving support for many months.
Statistics show that early engagement with a hospice provider also results in fewer hospitalizations, meaning a patient can remain in their home and avoid symptoms that would otherwise require care in a fulltime facility. Further, in many cases, hospice care patients can actually see their symptoms improve, leaving them more comfortable, in less pain and more able to fully enjoy their time with loved ones.
Another myth is that some families may worry that the cost of hospice care would be a strain on their budgets, but the cost of hospice care is not a concern in nearly all cases, as costs are covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.
Reaching out to a hospice care provider means understanding and recognizing that your loved will only be with you for a limited time. But hospice care provides an opportunity to make the most of that remaining time your loved one.
Tarrah Lowry is chief operating officer, Trustbridge, and is based in West Palm Beach.