by Judah Gutwein, for Regency Nursing and Post-Acute Rehabilitation Center
I previously wrote this article on Wellness.com to define hospice in clinical terms.
In this short essay, I’d like to simply clarify some of the myths in order to separate fact from fiction as it relates to hospice.
Every community and culture has their own way of viewing terminal illness and the process which leads to hospice care.
Fiction: Hospice is only for those terminally ill patients who suffer from aggressive forms of Cancer and other illnesses.
Fact: Hospice covers a wide spectrum of life threatening illnesses, including Cancer, CHF, Strokes, liver disease, MS, ALS and Parkinson’s. Hospice patients run the gamut of the very young (pediatric patients) and the very old and infirm.
Fiction: Hospice is given in a specific location or “Hospice Center.”
Fact: Hospice isn’t provided at select locations, but is simply a modality of care and a specific treatment plan designed to ease the emotional and physical pain of the patient towards the end of life. A proper hospice program can be incorporated and administered at many different care centers, including in-patient and out-patient facilities.
In fact, studies show that many patients will opt to receive end of life care in the comfort of their homes surrounded by family, while others prefer to be treated in in-patient nursing facilities. Hospice providers are capable of providing this level of care in multiple settings and should always respect the wishes of the family.
Fiction: The cost of hospice is prohibitively expensive.
Fact: The financial guidelines and criteria to qualify for hospice are not that prohibitive and restrictive at all. In most states Medicaid will cover hospice care and of course, geriatric patients who are typically covered under Medicare as their primary insurance, will have hospice benefits as well. Those who have their primary coverage through HMO’s and insurance plans will often find that these plans include a hospice benefit as well.
Fiction: Hospice means the patient has 6 months left to live.
Fact: Although this is what Hospice means in purely clinical terminology, the fact is, with its non invasive and multi-disciplinary approach to care, many hospice patients live in comfort and serenity for an extended period of time.
Should Terminally Ill Patients be Allowed to End Their Lives via Assisted Suicide?