Afraid to Learn More about Hospice Care?


What you learn may surprise you.

By Ann Gauthreaux

Myth: Calling hospice means giving up hope.

Truth: Facing the physical and emotional challenges of a life-limiting illness is overwhelming. You owe it to yourself to seek every option. When curative treatments are no longer effective, and it seems like all hope is gone – there is something you can do. Calling hospice does not mean giving up hope – it means letting hope in, for help and support, when you need it most.

Hospice care is designed to help patients live more fully and comfortably – with a team of caregivers who work to ease the burdens of pain and unwanted symptoms. It is choosing compassionate care and support so that you can be at home – wherever you call home.

Myth: If we use hospice – he may die sooner.

Truth: Most patients and families who choose hospice care report feeling better, emotionally and physically, almost immediately. With this improved quality of life, patients actually live longer! A study published in March 2007 in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management showed that patients who choose hospice care live an average of 29 days longer than patients who do not have hospice care.

Myth: Hospice care is too expensive.

Truth: Remarkably, there is rarely any out-of-pocket expense for hospice care. It is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance, or donations. Most patients have ‘pre-paid’ for hospice care during their working years through federal tax deductions. Therefore, in addition to easing physical and emotional burdens, using hospice at end of life can ease financial burdens.

The Medicare Hospice Benefit is available to all patients with the Medicare part A benefit.

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

Truth: The number one comment we hear from patients and families with hospice care is – “We wish we had called sooner.” Hospice care is not simply for patients in the final days or weeks, but rather months. Patients can receive hospice care as soon as a physician predicts that life expectancy is six months or less. Anyone, including family and friends, can make a referral to hospice.

Myth: Hospice is a place.

Truth: Hospice care is provided in the patient’s home – wherever the patient calls home. This could include a private home, assisted living facility and/or skilled nursing facility.

Hospice care is not about helping people die. It’s about helping people live well, until the very end – because every moment matters.

For more information, visit

Ann Gauthreaux is Regional Director of Public Relations of Hospice & Palliative CareCenter, Winston-Salem.


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