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Debunking Myths about Hospice

by Wanda Kelsey-Mendez, Communications Manager at Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care

In this era of social media, online info, hundreds of cable channels and streaming videos, why is it that myths about hospice and end-of-life care are still so prevalent? Part of it is a media problem. The medical dramas, first responder shows and even “news” programs mostly get it wrong.

When fictional patients near the end of life, fictional doctors and family tell them “don’t give up” and “you can still fight” or “let’s try another treatment.” CPR always works. People go for the risky surgeries and experimental treatments at any cost. The whole concept of palliative care is portrayed as a last resort for the last few hours of life.

kansas-city-hospice-home-health-care-nurseThat has not been my experience with my loved ones. Just know that keeping yourself informed and advocating for your loved ones is not about winning or losing. Respecting someone’s wishes on how they wish to live and how they wish to be treated is far more important than grasping at medical straws.

The concept of hospice is based completely on quality of life. Giving the right care at the right time allows families to be with each and to treasure each moment. What’s great is that it’s not one-size-fits-all. Each hospice experience is a custom-tailored team approach that brings to each family what they need most. Physical, emotional and spiritual needs are considered, not just for the patient, but for the whole family.

Kansas City HospiceLet’s look at the biggest myths

MYTH: Hospice is where you go when there’s nothing more a doctor can do.

FACT:  Hospice is designed for people with a life-limiting illness. Hospice assists people in living their lives fully, completely, and without pain until the end of their lives.

Work with your doctor to learn about palliative care options well before you may need to make choices. By talking through possibilities and options, your family will be better prepared and can help each other make decisions.

MYTH: To be eligible for hospice, I have to be in the final days of life.

FACT:  People may begin hospice care when their physician certifies they have six months or less to live, if the illness runs its normal course.

Also, there are more options than hospice under the umbrella of palliative care. Learn more about CHOICES for care. Studies show that people receiving hospice care actually live longer than those who do not. This is likely because of the supportive care that eases symptoms. You can stop hospice at any time that you want to pursue more curative treatment.

MYTH:  Quality care at the end of life is very expensive.

FACT:  Medicare beneficiaries pay little or nothing for hospice. Most insurance plans, HMO’s, and managed care plans cover hospice care. with little or no out-of-pocket expense.

My own family was shocked to learn that prescriptions, medical equipment, home care, nursing visits and most supplies were completely covered. After experiencing the high costs of care, it was a relief financially and spiritually to embrace hospice.

 

READ MORE ABOUT HOSPICE MYTH VS FACT

Every situation is different

One of the best thing about hospice, in my opinion, is how care is tailored to each experience. Each of my family members who received hospice care were unique. They included hospice at home, hospice in a skilled nursing facility and inpatient care at a hospice house.

My brother was a veteran who enjoyed visits from the chaplain.

Mother had dementia and the hospice team spent as much time making sure my sister, her primary caregiver, was okay as they did with mom.

My cousin experienced a problem pregnancy and received counseling before birth and special care for the short hours my little cousin was with us.

Another cousin wanted nothing more than to go home and be with her family.

My cousin’s husband spent his last days in complete comfort at hospice house with all of the extended family gathered around.

In each case, the entire family felt embraced and knew that our loved ones were exactly where they needed to be.

 

 
The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. And, our vision is that each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.

2 Comments on “Debunking Myths about Hospice”

  1. Jean Slack Says:

    Great post!

  2. Mindy Jollie Says:

    I like that you mentioned that you can stop hospice anytime you need to to pursue curative treatment that will make someone get better. My grandmother is starting to get to the point where she may need hospice. We’ll have to make sure we get her that palliative care so that she can better enjoy her last days here. http://www.a-1hospice.com/our-services/

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There's a long list of hospices in Kansas City, but there's only one Kansas City Hospice. Our programs provide comprehensive expert care for all ages at all stages of serious illness.

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When the focus shifts to comfort instead of treatment, care comes to your home or nursing facility with a plan tailored to your needs, including emotional and spiritual support for the whole family.

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When complex needs benefit from a team approach, supportive home care brings the care you need, with 24/7 nurse support for pain, stress and symptoms due to serious illness.

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When symptoms cannot be easily managed at home, two hospice houses provide 24/7 expert care in comfortable home-line settings where family members can be relieved of caregiving duties to focus on loved ones.

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Carousel provides palliative and hospice care for perinatal and for babies through young adults with a dedicated team of pediatric nurses, social workers, chaplains and other specialists.

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Solace House

Our center for grief and healing supports individuals and families who have been impacted by the death of a loved one, whether anticipated, or sudden and unexpected. We provide opportunities to share, listen, learn and heal with peer group support from age 3 through adult.

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