Caregiver holding elder hand in hospice care | Nashville Christian Family Magazine

One of the biggest hospice myths is that it’s only for people who are expected to pass away in days or weeks. Common misunderstandings like this can discourage people from learning more about services that could improve the quality of life for seniors and families. My goal is to explain what hospice is and share the truth about 5 common hospice myths that often stop people from asking if it would be helpful for their older adult. The main goal of hospice care is to make your older adult as comfortable as possible. Hospice combines pain and symptom management with emotional and spiritual support for seniors and families. Visiting nurses eliminate the need to go to the doctor’s office and families can even get help with personal care tasks like bathing. On-call help and support is always available – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Dispelling Hospice Myths: Five Biggest Misconceptions about Hospice Care

Myth #1 – Hospice is only for the last few days of life. The reality is that many people in hospice actually receive care for six months or longer. To be eligible for hospice under Medicare, seniors need to have Medicare Part A and have a doctor certify that they may not live more than 6 months. It’s very important to know that this is completely different from saying that someone will definitely pass away within 6 months. After 6 months, if your older adult’s condition has improved, they may be discharged from hospice care and return to a lower level of care. But if they still need the same level of care, the doctor and hospice team will re-certify that hospice services are still appropriate. And as long as the doctor certifies that your older adult meets the 6-month criteria, Medicare will keep covering hospice care.

Myth #2 – Once someone goes on hospice, they’re going to die. Getting hospice care doesn’t mean giving up hope or that death is around the corner. In many cases, hospice can help stabilize a patient’s medical condition and better manage pain. If their health condition improves, patients can leave hospice care at any time and return if and when they need to should their condition decline.

Myth #3 – Choosing hospice means giving up all other medical treatment. The goal of hospice care is to improve quality of life by better managing pain and symptoms. Every case is unique, but in general, treatments that help manage pain and symptoms will be continued and aggressive disease treatments are more likely to be discontinued. However, it’s important to be aware that each hospice company has their own policies. Always check that the specific medications or treatments your older adult needs or wants will be included in that company’s services.

Myth #4 – Hospice care only happens at facilities. Hospice is a type of care and doesn’t have to happen in a specific location. People can receive hospice care anywhere – at home, in a hospital, or in a care facility. Many times, hospice care is used in conjunction with non-medical home care companies, like Amada Senior Care, to provide the patient with comprehensive and consistent care.

Myth #5 – Hospice costs an arm and a leg. People who are covered by Medicare usually pay little or nothing for hospice care. Most insurance plans, HMOs, and managed care plans also include coverage for hospice. This is different from non-medical home care, which is not currently covered by Medicare. These services are paid out of pocket.

 Kevin B. Fehr, CSA, Certified Senior Advisor President & CEO, Amada Senior Care




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