10 Hospice Myths

Mother and daughter

Myth: Hospice care is only for people giving up on life.

Fact: Ultimately, hospice is not about dying. It is about helping patients live life to the fullest, with the time they have left. Multiple research studies show those with a terminal illness who choose hospice often live longer and have a better quality of life than those who choose aggressive end-of-life medical care.  


Myth: Choosing hospice means giving up control.

Fact: Patients and families make the final decision about when to choose hospice and who provides care. The best care happens when hospice providers listen first and coordinate with the patient, family and the patient’s doctors.


Myth: Hospice care is expensive.

Fact: Hospice is a fully funded Medicare/Medicaid benefit, unlimited in length, and is covered by many private insurance companies. Most plans cover hospice care, medications, supplies and equipment related to the hospice diagnoses with no out-of-pocket expenses to the patient. Care includes doctor visits, nursing care, social services, certain therapies and spiritual counseling. The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs also covers hospice care for veterans.


Myth: Hospice happens at a hospital or hospice facility. 

Fact: Hospice is provided anywhere a patient calls home. Often that’s in the patient’s home or the home of a family member, but it could also be a nursing home, assisted living facility or hospital.


Myth: Once you decide on hospice, you can’t go back.

Fact: Patients can revoke hospice participation at any time. Their medical condition may improve or a patient may decide to pursue curative treatment. Patients can reapply for hospice benefits at a later time, if necessary.


Myth: Hospice care is only for people with a few days or weeks to live.

Fact: While hospice certainly helps patients and families during a medical crisis, the fullest benefit occurs when pain and symptoms are managed and patients have time for personal and spiritual connections.  

 

Myth: Only a doctor can refer someone for hospice care.

Fact: It is important for patients and families to know that anyone can make a referral to hospice. Family, clergy and others can refer a patient then request a doctor’s order. 


Myth: Hospice care ends with the passing of the patient. 

Fact: Bereavement care is an important part of hospice. At Compasssus, we offer families at least one year of bereavement support after the death of a family member. We also help with funeral arrangements and other issues that arise after death.


Myth: Hospice is only for people with cancer. 

Fact: Hospice is for patients of any age with a prognosis of six months to live or less. Diagnoses for hospice admission may include cancer, dementia, heart disease, lung disease, stroke or coma.


Myth: Hospice and palliative care are the same.

Fact: Both provide comfort care during a serious illness. Hospice only begins after the decision to end treatment for a terminal illness and when it's clear the person will not survive. Palliative care can begin at diagnosis, and happen at the same time as treatment.