When Hospice of the Calumet Area began serving area residents in 1981, the hospice philosophy was new to the United States. This meant many people were unfamiliar with hospice until someone they knew experienced it.
Unfortunately, misinformation or “myths” can spread between people who simply do not know the truth from experiencing hospice care. We address some of those here. Also know that we’re available to speak to your church or civic organization to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
In order to be in hospice, you must discontinue your medication.
TRUTH: Any medication directly related to the terminal illness not only is continued, but also provided by the hospice team. If additional unrelated medications are necessary, the family would obtain them as usual.
You must be homebound to receive hospice care.
TRUTH: There are no activity limitations for patients enrolled in the hospice program. Patients are encouraged to cherish all aspects of life as fully as possible.
Hospice withholds food and fluids.
TRUTH: Each patient’s nutrition is tailored to his or her individual needs, and those under hospice care may eat and drink as much or as little as desired. Patient control and choice always are considered and are combined with the expertise of the hospice team in managing end-stage nutrition.
Hospice care is for those in their final days.
TRUTH: Hospice care was designed for those in their last six months of life, not just their last days. Many families could be Cherishing Life for several months of the patient’s illness by taking advantage of the physical, emotional and spiritual support that is available.
Hospice is “giving up.”
TRUTH: We recognize the difficulty of coping with the last stages of life. All too often, people deny themselves (and their caregivers) the help and support of our care by thinking they are “giving up” on life. Our philosophy is to Cherish Life as much as possible. We work to manage pain and symptoms to enhance quality of life, while offering the emotional and spiritual support to provide the most peace and comfort possible.
Hospice care is only for cancer patients.
TRUTH: Hospice is available for patients with any life-limiting illness in which the physician has determined that the patient’s life expectancy is six months or less, and comfort measures rather than curative measures are now appropriate and chosen by the patient. This could include illnesses such as emphysema, congestive heart failure or advanced Alzheimer’s disease in their final stages.
You have to leave your own doctor to be a part of the hospice program.
TRUTH: Your primary physician can continue to direct your care and work with the hospice team. The hospice team also has a medical director who’s available to your physician for any additional medical consultation.
All hospice agencies are the same.
TRUTH: While all hospices provide the same basic services, the quality of those services can vary greatly. Contact us to hear from families we’ve served.
Once you begin hospice care, you cannot leave the program.
TRUTH: A person may sign out of the hospice program for a variety of reasons, such as resuming aggressive curative treatment or pursuing experimental measures. Or, if a patient shows signs of recovery and no longer meets the six-month guideline, he or she can be discharged from hospice care and return to the program if the illness progresses at a later time.